Gun-trafficking suspects were under surveillance
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
DALLAS (AP) — A weapon recently used to kill a U.S. agent in Mexico was bought by a Texas man who had been under surveillance along with two others several months ago as part of a suspected gun-trafficking ring for a violent Mexican drug cartel, according to documents released Tuesday.
That man, Otilio Osorio, 22, his brother Ranferi Osorio, 27, and their neighbor Kelvin Leon Morrison, 25, were to appear at a federal court hearing Friday in Dallas to face federal weapons charges. None are related to last month’s death of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.
Investigators allege they met a confidential informant near Dallas in November and gave him 40 guns to take into Mexico, according to the documents. The pistols, rifles and a shotgun — most without serial numbers — were seized before they crossed the border as part of the undercover operation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
But authorities later learned that another gun purchased in October by Otilio Osorio was used in the Feb. 15 attack on two ICE agents as they drove on a highway near San Luis Potosi in Mexico, killing Jaime Zapata and wounding Victor Avila. Mexican authorities announced Monday the capture of a regional boss for the Los Zetas drug gang accused in Zapata’s slaying.
Osorio bought that gun in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but authorities did not know at the time, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas, which did not say when officials learned about the purchase. It’s also unclear how, when and by whom that weapon was moved into Mexico.
Each Osorio brother is charged with possessing firearms with an obliterated serial number in connection with their alleged gun trafficking in November, according to documents. Federal prosecutors have not said if Otilio Osorio will face additional charges related to the October gun purchase or the agent’s death.
Morrison is charged with lying to obtain weapons and dealing in firearms without a license in connection with buying about 20 guns for other people from July through November, according to the documents.
Two of the men appeared in court briefly Tuesday, a day after all three were arrested at their Dallas-area homes. The judge postponed the hearing for later in the week at their attorneys’ request.