Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s family sue over Fast and Furious
Family’s lawsuit target federal prosecutor and ATF managers who were responsible for failed guns operation on Mexico border
guardian.co.uk, Friday 14 December 2012 23.31 GMT
Brian Terry was fatally shot north of the Arizona-Mexico border while trying to catch bandits who target illegal immigrants in 2010.
The family of a murdered Border Patrol agent has sued federal officials over the botched Fast and Furious operation to track smuggled guns to Mexico.
Agent Brian Terry was mortally wounded on December 14, 2010, in a firefight north of the Arizona-Mexico border between US agents and five men who had sneaked into the country to rob marijuana smugglers.
Federal authorities conducting Fast and Furious have faced tough criticism for allowing suspected straw gun buyers for a smuggling ring to walk away from gun shops in Arizona with weapons, rather than arrest them and seize weapons.
The lawsuit filed Thursday and made publicly available on Friday came from Terry’s parents against six managers and investigators for the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The family also sued a federal prosecutor who had previously handled the case but is no longer on it, and the owner of the gun store where two rifles found in the firefight’s aftermath were bought.
The family alleges that the ATF officials and federal prosecutor created a risk to law enforcement officers such as Terry and that the firearms agents should have known their actions would lead to injuries and deaths to civilians and police officers in America and Mexico.
The family also alleged that firearms agents and the prosecutor sought to cover up the link between Terry’s death and the botched gun smuggling investigation.
The "Fast and Furious" operation was launched in 2009 to catch trafficking kingpins, but agents lost track of about 1,400 of the more than 2,000 weapons involved.
Authorities say the ring was believed to have supplied the Sinaloa cartel with guns. Mexico’s drug cartels often seek out guns in the U.S. because gun laws in Mexico are more restrictive than in the U.S.
Some guns purchased by the ring were later found at crime scenes in Mexico and the United States.
The probe’s failures were revealed and later examined in congressional inquiries.
So far, 15 of the 20 people charged in the gun smuggling case have pleaded guilty to charges.
Authorities have a separate case pending in federal court in Tucson against five men charged with murder in Terry’s death.
So far, one man has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Of the five men accused in Terry’s killing, two are in custody, and three others remain fugitives.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:38 am
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Luxury, treachery and a break for Belgium’s border
Bernard Arnault of LVMH denies that bid for dual citizenship is spurred by Hollande’s 75 per cent tax
JOHN LICHFIELD MONDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 2012
Bernard Arnault, the fourth-richest man in the world and founder of the LVMH luxury goods empire, provoked a political firestorm in France at the weekend when he confirmed he is seeking dual French-Belgian citizenship.
Although Mr Arnault, 63, said he had no plans to move to tax exile in Belgium, his decision was immediately linked by politicians on left and right to President François Hollande’s promise to impose a 75 per cent tax on marginal income over €1m (£800,000). There have been rumours that this will be diluted when formally proposed later this month, but President Hollande insisted at the weekend that his promise – or threat – would be kept.
Mr Arnault said that he wanted to be Belgian – or half-Belgian – so that he could "develop" his financial interests in France’s northern neighbour. Although he comes originally from Roubaix on the Belgian border, he has no Belgian blood or family ties.
His explanation was dismissed as absurdly unconvincing in both Belgium and France yesterday. As France’s richest man, with interests estimated by Forbes magazine to be worth €32bn, he can already invest in Belgium as much as he likes.
As a Belgian, Mr Arnault could benefit from tax-free status in Monaco – but only if he renounced his French citizenship. French people who live in the tiny principality are taxed in France. Belgians citizens live there tax free.
The former centre-right prime minister, François Fillon, said Mr Arnault’s decision was clearly provoked by the 75 per cent income tax plan. "When a government takes decisions as stupid as that, you can expect terrifying consequences such as this," he said.
Left-wing politicians accused Mr Arnault, who has built Louis Vuitton-Moet Hennessy (LVMH) into the biggest luxury goods empire in the world, of being unpatriotic. One accused him of "treachery".
Harlem Désir, deputy head of the Socialist party, said: "If you love France, you don’t leave when the going gets tough."
Mr Hollande’s income-tax plan was one of the key proposals of his successful election campaign in the spring. It anchored his support on the Left when it seemed to be slipping and helped to paint President Nicolas Sarkozy as a "president of the rich".
According to press reports last week, the 75 per tax will appear in weakened form in draft legislation to be published later this month. Sportsmen and actors will be spared. Married couples will be taxed at 75 per cent on marginal income exceeding €2m.
President Hollande, whose approval ratings have been sliding rapidly, insists that his campaign promise will be kept. In a live television interview last night, he was expected to warn that €15bn in new taxes would be needed to meet the eurozone deficit-cutting target next year and that France faced its toughest economic challenges for 30 years.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:42 pm
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Border controls are back in Europe
Simon Black on JULY 6, 2012
July 6, 2012
Lake Lugano, Switzerland
Somewhere in America, Barbara Boxer is weeping.
The California senator’s version of the Highway Bill (S.1813, also known as MAP-21) which passed the senate and seemed destined to become law, has been dropped in favor of a rival bill that President Obama will sign into law today.
If you recall, Boxer’s highway bill contained provisions authorizing the government to deny US citizens a passport in the event of unpaid taxes.
These provisions have been removed from the new version of the law; so the US governments efforts to restrict Americans’ travel have been dropped. For now.
Don’t worry, though there are still plenty of bonehead line items in the law, like authorizing public service campaigns to raise awareness about the risks of ‘leaving a child or unattended passenger in a vehicle after the vehicle motor is disengaged.’
Your tax dollars at work.
Speaking of travel restrictions and border controls, though, European authorities seem to have no qualms about implementing them.
For the last several days, I’ve been weaving between northern Italy and Switzerland checking out great places to bank, new places to store gold, and taking in these gorgeous lake views.
Every single time I’ve crossed the border, I’ve been met by rather snarly police on both sides; they’re stopping cars, turning people’s trunks inside out, and causing major traffic problems.
A friend of mine who came up on the train from Florence to meet me for lunch in Lugano said he was stopped at the border for nearly an hour as thuggish customs agents randomly questioned train passengers and demanded to see their IDs.
So much for Europe’s 26-country ‘borderless area.’
Based on Europe’s 1985 Schengen Treaty and 1997 Amsterdam Treaty, you’re supposed to be able to drive from Tallinn, Estonia to Lisbon, Portgual without so much as slowing down at the border.
This is not dissimilar from driving between states in the US or provinces in Canada.
Yet as Europe descends into greater financial and social chaos, leaders are starting to ignore these agreements which guarantee freedom of movement across the continent.
No big surprise, electing Marxists and Neo-Nazis tends to bring that sort of change. Border controls, currency controls, wage and price controls– these are the usual tactics of desperate, insolvent governments.
As times get tougher, they tighten their grip, foolishly believing that they can decree and legislate their country back to health.
In the early 4th century AD after decades of economic turmoil and social strife within the Roman Empire, Diocletian issued his infamous Edictum De Pretiis Rerum Venalium, or Edict on Prices.
In addition to setting a fixed ceiling on over 1,000 products, services, and wages, Diocletian also commanded the death penalty for currency and commodity speculators who he blamed for inflation (as opposed to the steady debasement of the currency).
Obviously very little has changed.
Capital controls usually follow; these amount to the direct confiscation of wealth by a government from its citizens.
Often capital controls take the form of legal requirements which prevent people from moving money abroad, holding foreign currencies, or buying precious metals.
Just yesterday, in fact, Argentina’s central bank formally banned people from buying US dollars– forcing them to hold rapidly depreciating pesos and watch their savings inflate away.
At some point, people finally reach their breaking points and spill out into the streets to be beaten by the police. This is when we see social controls implemented– turning off mobile and Internet infrastructure, curfews, etc.
These tactics have been all too common over the last 18-months.
And finally, if things get really bad, border controls are implemented as a way to prevent a flood of people from leaving. After all, the government needs as many milk cows as it can get.
This is why I say that the US passport denial provision has been dropped… but only for now. Don’t be surprised to see it creep up in another proposed law in the near future.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:51 am
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COLUMBUS, N.M. — From a small hill at a state park here, the border town of Palomas, Mexico, can be made out through the desert haze. It lies four miles to the south, but the corruption that roils Palomas and the rest of Northern Mexico may as well be a block away.
Last year, black sedans and hatchbacks loaded with federal agents poured into Columbus, a town of 2,000 people, arresting the mayor, the police chief, a city trustee and nine others. They have all pleaded guilty in a gun-smuggling operation that sold about 100 firearms, mostly assault rifles, to Mexican drug cartels.
"Unfortunately, the border is just one vast conspiracy," said Howard Anderson, the lawyer for former Mayor Eddie Espinoza.
In southern Texas over the last year and a half, nine lawmen have been charged with allowing guns or drugs to illegally cross the border between Laredo and Brownsville. In Sunland Park, N.M., authorities are investigating a dozen officials, and the mayor and city manager have left office. In the last eight years, 130 U.S. Border Patrol agents have been arrested and 600 more are under investigation.
"It all comes down to taking some of the lowest-paid public servants and putting them in a position" where salaries can be doubled, said James Phelps, an assistant professor at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. "The likelihood of getting caught is extremely low, and the reward can be very high."
Javier Lozano used to work as a police officer in Palomas. Now he presides as municipal judge in Columbus. He long suspected that eventually Columbus or some other U.S. border town would be tarnished.
Unless the cartel violence is stopped, he warned, more U.S. communities within eyesight of Mexico will be disgraced.
At Columbus City Hall, the new mayor, Nicole Lawson, said almost everyone in town was related to someone in Palomas. Americans live in Palomas because it is cheaper, and they can drive to Columbus for school and healthcare. Like Lozano, she had worried about when her hometown would be compromised.
The border? "That’s just a line in the air," she said.
In the Columbus scheme, Espinoza, the mayor for several years, rented an apartment in El Paso, Texas, to store weapons before they were carried or driven across the border, officials said. About 200 were sold, they said, half of them making it to Mexico.
Anderson, his lawyer, said the mayor pocketed $100 for each of the 16 firearms he handled that made it across the Rio Grande. "We’re not talking about a lot of money," he acknowledged. "It’s nickel-and-dime stuff."
Anderson said the mayor, a Navy veteran and former state park official, had hoped to leave something for his son serving in Afghanistan.
Police Chief Angelo Vega, 41, was one of nine chiefs to serve Columbus in the last eight years. Luna County Sheriff Raymond Cobos said he thought Vega was particularly unlikable because he betrayed the badge.
"This was just out-and-out corruption," Cobos said. "His transactions cost people [in Mexico] their lives. But then, anybody with a complete lack of moral compass, moral direction, will do anything."
Blas Gutierrez, 31, a city trustee, faces up to 10 years in prison. His family and his attorney said his drug habit put him in need of ready cash. When he was arrested, he had just been reelected to a four-year term in Columbus, and his family was fairly prominent on both sides of the border, running grocery stores, a gas station and a pharmacy.
"He knows he really destroyed his family," said his attorney, Charles McElhinney. "He’s got a few young kids, and his wife most likely will be deported back to Mexico."
Officials said Gutierrez found a firearms dealer in Chaparral, N.M., who sold the weapons out of his trailer-court home with a U.S. flag flying out front. That dealer, Ian Garland, a former police officer and decorated veteran, has also pleaded guilty. He contends agents from theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosivesencouraged him to sell the firearms, much like what happened in Phoenix under the federal Fast and Furious surveillance operation, in which 2,000 weapons were lost across the border.
Robert Gutierrez, Blas Gutierrez’s father, is heartbroken. In the back room of his San Jose grocery in Columbus, he spoke sadly of the cross-border culture that he, his parents and his children embraced, only to see so much of their heritage scarred by guns and drugs.
"I’ve lived here all this time, the last 40 years," he said. "It’s part of the border area, where things come and go. They come up north illegally or not, and they go south illegally or not."
He brushed back his long black-and-white hair. "When you grow up here," he said, "you accept this."
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun May 13, 2012 9:00 am
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The family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has filed a $25-million lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, claiming "negligence" and "a violation of ATF’s own policies and procedures" resulting in the death of their son.
A separate lawsuit against The Lone Wolf Trading Company stated that "but for defendants’ negligent and illegal sales … Brian Terry would not have been murdered."
Terry was killed when his unit was ambushed near the Arizona-Mexico border on the night of December 14, 2010. Two AK-47s found at the scene were part of an ATF gun-walking operation allowing the illegal purchase of weapons by straw buyers, who then sold them to a Mexican drug cartel.
Interviewed by Fox News in November, Terry’s mother expressed the general feeling of anyone now familiar with Fast and Furious.
If they never let the guns walk, maybe Brian would not have been out that day[.] … I just can’t believe our own government came up with a program like this that [let] innocent people get killed."
Attorney General Eric "My People" Holder, whose Department of Justice oversees the ATF, has claimed for over a year that he knew nothing about the logic-defying, deadly, and secretive program known as Fast and Furious. President Obama has shielded Holder from charges of perjury, obstruction, and conspiracy.
In October Obama stated that he has "complete confidence" in his Attorney General.
He has been very aggressive in going after gunrunning and cash transactions that are going to these transnational drug cartels in Mexico. He’s indicated he was not aware of what was happening in Fast and Furious. Certainly I was not.
And I think both he and I would have been very unhappy if somebody had suggested that guns were allowed to pass through that could have been prevented by the United States of America.
Agent Terry’s family, Agent Zapata’s loved ones, the Mexican government, and the American people deserve the truth. Justice must be served. The family’s legal action gives us hope that the guilty will finally be held responsible. After all, no one is above the law.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:00 am
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