Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is again pressing the Justice Department on details surrounding the shooting death of an ICE agent, demanding to know if any of the tactics used in flawed Operation Fast and Furious were also carried out in Texas.
Cornyn, who has been highly critical of Attorney General Eric Holder, sent a second letter inquiring about the death of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata, who was gunned down while on assignment in Mexico on Feb. 15, 2011. Since his death, investigators traced one of the guns to a Texas-based gun trafficking ring. Cornyn notes in his letter to Holder on Tuesday that fellow lawmakers found documents that may suggest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents had probable cause to arrest those involved in the ring about three weeks before Zapata’s death.
“More than 19 months have passed since the murder of my fellow Texan and U.S. ICE Agent Jaime Zapata,” Cornyn wrote to Holder. “His family deserves answers, not more stonewalling. I ask that you immediately disclose the details of any ‘gun-walking’ program or tactics carried out by your Department in the State of Texas.”
Cornyn has called for Holder to resign over Operation Fast and Furious, the botched gun-walking investigation out of Arizona that sparked a large-scale congressional inquiry and prompted a lengthy Justice Department Inspector General report. In Tuesday’s letter, Cornyn asks if any gun-walking tactics were used in Texas.
The Texas Republican joins Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who last week asked Inspector General Michael Horowitz to open an investigation into Zapata’s death.
On Tuesday, one Border Patrol agent was killed and another wounded in the Arizona desert, near the Mexico border. As of yesterday, no guns had been recovered, nor had any arrests been made, the FBI said. Nicholas J. Ivie, 30, was the agent killed in the incident, officials confirmed. Ivie and the other agents had been patrolling near a border station named after Brian A. Terry, a fellow agent who was killed along the border in 2010. Guns found at the scene of Terry’s death were later linked to Fast and Furious. In a statement Tuesday, Grassley again remarked on the effects of Fast and Furious.
“There’s no way to know at this point how the agent was killed, but because of Operation Fast and Furious, we’ll wonder for years if the guns used in any killing along the border were part of an ill-advised gunwalking strategy sanctioned by the federal government,” he said in the statement. ”It’s a sad commentary. We all mourn for the Border Patrol agent who was killed near the border station named after another fallen hero and fellow agent, Brian Terry.”