- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Three Texas men arrested on weapons violations were being held Wednesday pending a Friday detention hearing while federal authorities investigated their ties to the Feb. 15 killing of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent in Mexico.

Investigators said one of three weapons found at the scene of the killing of ICE agent Jaime Zapata was traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to Otilio Osorio, 25, of Lancaster, Texas. The weapons were seized at the scene by Mexican authorities.

ATF Special Agent in Charge Robert R. Champion, who heads the agency’s Dallas field office, said Mr. Osorio, 22, and his brother, Ranferi, 27, were arrested at their home on charges of possessing firearms with an obliterated serial number.

Kelvin Leon Morrison, 25, also was arrested and charged in a separate complaint with making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms and dealing in firearms without a license. He lives next door to the Osorios.

According to court documents, a confidential ATF informant arranged a meeting in early November with people who had firearms to be transported from Dallas to Laredo. The meeting was arranged as part of an investigation of Los Zetas, a violent and ruthless Mexican drug trafficking gang.

The weapons ultimately were seized by U.S. law enforcement near Laredo, before crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to the documents, at the meeting, two men unloaded several large bags containing firearms into the informant’s vehicle, which was kept under surveillance until a traffic stop in Laredo. The vehicle was later stopped by local police, and the three men inside were identified as Ranferi and Otilio Osorio and Mr. Morrison.

Forty firearms, all with obliterated serial numbers, were found in the car and were specifically traced to Mr. Morrison, who bought them from federal firearms licensees in the Dallas/Fort Worth area on Nov. 4.

Mr. Champion said that on Aug. 7, a Romarm, model WASR, 7.62 caliber rifle was discovered by law enforcement officers in LaPryor, Texas, near the Mexican border. Trace results indicated that Mr. Morrison purchased that firearm July 30 from a Texas dealer.

According to court records, between July 10 and Nov. 4, Mr. Morrison purchased 24 firearms from Texas gun dealers.

The affidavit said that one of the three firearms used in the Zapata assault was purchased by Otilio Osorio on Oct. 10 in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Ballistic testing in Mexico revealed that it was one of the firearms used during the assault on Mr. Zapatas vehicle.

Mr. Zapata was fatally shot and his partner, Victor Avila, was wounded twice in the leg in the ambush on a major highway near the city of San Luis Potosi, about 250 miles north of Mexico City. The men, assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, were returning to their office after a meeting with other U.S. personnel in San Luis Potosi.

Neither man was armed, as Mexico does not allow U.S. law enforcement personnel to carry weapons in the country.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide