By Joe Guzzardi
September 25, 2015
Nearly five years ago, Mexican drug dealers shot U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona. Although a federal law enforcement officer’s murder well within U.S. territory and perpetrated by foreign nationals illegally in the country should have been blockbuster headline news, details were mostly available only on the Internet.
From the start, the case was explosive. Terry’s murder, outcries of a failed immigration policy that leaves the border unprotected even as then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano insisted it had never been “more secure,” and the mainstream media’s reluctance to write critically about Mexico and its lawlessness enraged the public. Between 2006 and the time of Terry’s death, narco-terrorists had killed more than 34,000 Mexicans. U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith added that more than 1,000 law enforcement officers were killed during the five years preceding Terry’s shooting.
But as details unfolded, the story got uglier. Because of a politically correct but deadly White House policy, Terry and his fellow agents had fired non-lethal beanbags at the drug runners after they ignored orders to stop. The aliens returned fire from their AK-47s, shot and killed Terry with a single bullet to his chest.
Then, most shocking of all, investigators learned that Terry had been shot with a gun provided by the United States as part of a misguided and bungled Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ program known as “Operation Fast and Furious.” ATF authorized the sale of 2,000 guns to criminals with the intention of tracking them. However, ATF lost track of 1,400 weapons including two that were found at Terry’s murder scene.
In Tucson this week, the trail continued for two suspects charged in Terry’s murder. Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza, also known as Lionel Portillo-Meza, and Ivan Soto-Barraza, gave their opening statements. Two in the six-man crew have already plead guilty, one of whom received a thirty-year sentence and the other is expected to receive the same punishment. Two other suspects remain at large.
In an unusual twist, U.S. District Court Judge David Bury excluded testimony about "Fast and Furious" and prohibited the defense or the prosecution from mentioning the operation “unless the government should open the door by eliciting testimony regarding the history of the Mexican rip crews and drug trafficking and … a named cartel where the guns wound up.”
Although then-Attorney General Eric Holder claimed executive privilege and refused to release documents related to Fast and Furious, after years of legal wrangling, the Department of Justice turned over 64,000 pages of materials, some heavily redacted.
The cruelest irony is that Terry, a Marine and former police officer, was on a mission to protect illegal immigrants trying to unlawfully enter the U.S. from Mexican gangsters who in addition to smuggling drugs also prey on the vulnerable border crossers.
Terry’s case is tragic and, because of how it proves the U.S. unwillingness to secure the border and its refusal to get tough with Mexico, frustrating. Fast and Furious, an idiotic bureaucratic idea, contributed to the unnecessary death of a fine young man. To this day, even though a House Committee on Oversight and Government investigation on Fast and Furious found “more than a dozen officials at DOJ and ATF responsible,” no one has been held accountable. Holder maintains he never learned of the program until after Terry’s death.
The Terry family and Americans worried about the consequences of wide open borders deserve better than a political cover up and the self-serving lies that surround it. But one Obama administration hallmark is its steadfast refusal to protect America from illegal immigration and the deadly threats that often come with it.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]