Last Updated:December 20 @ 10:26 pm

Update on Fast and Furious

By Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)

Seven defendants in cases related to agent's slaying just sentenced
Two years after bandits killed U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, visible progress has finally occurred in the criminal cases and internal investigations that exploded afterward.

This week, the straw purchaser of two AK-47-style rifles found at the scene of Terry's death, west of Rio Rico, was sentenced to almost five years in prison. Jaime Avila Jr. was one of seven defendants from the original Operation Fast and Furious sentenced this week.

There has also been one murder conviction: Manuel Osorio- Arellanes, who was shot during the gunfight in which Terry died, pleaded guilty on Oct. 30 to first-degree murder in Terry's death. He is awaiting sentencing, while one co-defendant awaits extradition in Mexico, and three other defendants remain fugitives.

Some progress has even occurred in holding accountable the people responsible for the ATF operation that allowed weapons into the hands of those who killed Terry. The Wall Street Journal and others reported this month that four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials have been recommended for firing, and two others have been recommended for discipline.

Terry's cousin, Robert Heyer, said the family still sees a lack of accountability among government officials who conducted Operation Fast and Furious or allowed it to go on despite the operation's allowing up to 2,000 weapons into the hands of cross-border criminals.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," Heyer said. "The Congressional Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigation and the Justice Department inspector general have clearly determined who is responsible within the DOJ, who bears responsibility in the ATF and the USA's office." Most have not been disciplined, he noted.

The attorney for one ATF official, William McMahon, acknowledged that the bureau formally fired McMahon on Nov. 27, though he is appealing. McMahon oversaw ATF's western U.S. region during the operation.

"The circumstances that led to his termination were tied to political pressure arising from partisan interests that were more appropriately directed against executive branch agencies rather than individuals who were simply attempting to serve the perceived best interests of our country," attorney Mark Zaid said in an email.

Attorneys for three other agents named in media reports either would not confirm their clients' status with ATF or did not return calls seeking comment.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and those at the top of the hierarchy have not lost their jobs or otherwise suffered serious consequences as a result of Terry's death or Operation Fast and Furious, noted Art Del Cueto. He contrasted that with the consequences that agents face - and that Terry's death brought home.

"If we mess up on small details or big details or whatever, out in the field, we could die," he said.

Contact reporter Tim Steller at 807-8427 or at tsteller@azstarnet.com

On StarNet: Find extensive coverage of immigration issues at azstarnet.com/border

SENTENCES for those linked to case

Federal prosecutors brought charges against 20 people in cases stemming from the ATF gunrunning investigation brought to light by Border Patrol agent Brian Terry's murder. Of those, 15 have been convicted and 13 sentenced. Here are the sentences:

Jaime Avila Jr.: 4 years 9 months

Julio J. Carrillo: 3 years, 10 months

Alfredo Celis: 4 years, 9 months

Jonathan E. Fernandez: 3 years, 1 month

Dejan Hercegovac: 3 years, 4 months

Kristi G. Ireland: 5 years probation

Jacob A. Montelongo: 3 years, 5 months

Joshua D. Moore: 4 years, 9 months

Danny C. Morones: 4 years, 9 months

Jose A. Polanco: 1 year, 6 months

John W. Rowland: 3 years, 1 month

Sean C. Steward: 9 years

Kenneth J. Thompson: 5 years

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11 Comments

  1. sumitchComment by sumitch
    April 18, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

    This is a start, but not a finish. The presidnet’s executive order sheltering Eric Holder is not just wrong, it’s illegal. Congress can overcome this order if they’s just go to work on it. Holder is already in contempt of congress and getting away with it. Every ATF employee that took part or even knew of it is violating their oath and the law. Natzis in WW II tried to hide behind the fact that they only followed their orders. It did’t work for them and it shouldn’t work for those involved to the top of the list including Eric Holder. This administration must be stopped and only congress can do it. Every congress person that did not publically come out in support of due process and investigation should be voted out of office.

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  2. tps12Comment by tps12
    April 18, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

    Strange how bo and congress are not interested in any thing that might stick to them.

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  3. mikeyparksComment by mikeyparks
    April 18, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

    Until Holder and Obama are in prison, this isn’t finished.

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  4. MutantoneComment by Mutantone
    April 18, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

    What is really sad it that there were several other Gun running programs instituted by Obama and Holder, one ran guns to Puerto Rico and inside the USA in Indiana but that did not make the news why? That the whole goal was to create an incident to ban firearms restrict and register owners ultimately to make the grounds to confiscate all fire arms. then the ones involved skate free from responsibility for their illegal actions and they even rewarded the killers with light sentences the most was nine years what a load of manure try Obama and Holder as accomplices to the murder!

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    • l0nerangerComment by l0neranger
      April 18, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

      You might be referring to a gun walking operation that was run up in Minnesota, when Todd B. Jones, Acting Director ATF, was the U.S. Attorney up there. I believe the supervisor, or case agent from ATF was the same group supervisor over Fast & Furious, if my memory serves me correctly.

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    • MutantoneComment by Mutantone
      April 18, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

      dear 10neranger there were several inside the USA allowing gang bangers to arm up and the reports say even anti tank weapons and full auto kits hand grenades were supplied all the more reason for Holder and Obama who were in charge of the whole program should be arrested and charged I say it is treason for giving the “Aid and Comfort” to the enemies of our Nation for what else is it to be called when you arm the criminals with such weapons

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  5. l0nerangerComment by l0neranger
    April 18, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

    The operational plan came from the White House down. No federal law enforcement field office would do anything close to Fast & Furious, if they weren’t told to do it by someone very high up.

    This operation was sanctioned under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. The normal approval process is long and arduous. The OCDETF member agencies include the ATF, ICE, FBI, DEA, the U.S. Marshall Service, and the IRS/CID. Representatives from each of these agencies would have to review the proposal, which was supposedly co-authored by an ICE and ATF special agent.

    Bells and whistles would go off immediately, if not for approval from on high. Someone had to approve of the guns walking across an international boundary, and into the hands of the drug cartels. The ramifications are enormous, and would require input from ALL departments, which includes the U.S. Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Treasury (IRS special agents involved).

    Only a political person could override managers of federal law enforcement agencies. A Special Agent in Charge in Phoenix could never carry out Fast and Furious. Just think of the weight the decision had to carry to NOT tell the Mexican government, and our own ambassador to Mexico.

    Another aspect of this debacle that cries out for investigation, is the fact that Brian Terry was firing “bean bag” rounds from a 12 Ga. shotgun. Where did that policy come from???

    As the story goes, Terry and his group of highly trained agents (look up BORTAC in Google), were looking to engage armed border bandits that had been ripping off drug mules, and smuggled aliens. How does less than lethal ammunition come into play???

    This really needs an independent prosecutor, and a federal grand jury to investigate the entire mess, from top to bottom.

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  6. l0nerangerComment by l0neranger
    April 18, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

    I should also add that the FBI had registered as an informant, one of ATF’s targets in Fast and Furious. The FBI even sent the informant into one of the gun stores, where he bought guns, with FBI supplied money. They had to of masked the informants felony record, because the sale went through.

    Ken Melson, the ATF director during Fast and Furious said he became physically ill while reviewing the wire tap logs, and the case reports, because he realized what the FBI was doing.

    Pretty twisted!

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  7. bulletfish2013Comment by bulletfish2013
    April 18, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

    Just amazes me that all these people are falling on their sword for their bosses. They are throwing away not just jobs but whole careers and most likely messing up their personal life pretty bad as well, doing what someone way above them forced them to do.

    Had not a few with ethics stepped forward we would never be the wiser, but to not speak out is really baffling is it not?

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    • l0nerangerComment by l0neranger
      April 20, 2013 @ 9:05 am

      None has faced the prospect of going to prison, yet!

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  8. jmikes1951Comment by jmikes1951
    April 18, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

    Fast and Furious put more guns in the hands of criminals than what federal gun checks could have ever stopped.

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