A firearm from North Texas was smuggled to Mexico four months before it was used in the killing of a U.S. agent and one month before federal agents in Dallas began investigating the gun-trafficking ring involved, a prosecutor revealed Monday.
The prosecutor's comments during a sentencing hearing for Otilio Osorio, of Lancaster, offered the first detailed accounting of the timetable involved in the smuggling of the weapon recovered by Mexican authorities after the killing of U.S. immigration agent Jaime Zapata.
Osorio was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay on Monday to seven years in prison. His brother and two other men pleaded guilty in the case but have not yet been sentenced.
The weapon, which was bought in Fort Worth from a Joshua gun dealer, was recovered by Mexican authorities in February 2011 after Zapata was gunned down by members of a Mexican drug cartel.
Critics have questioned whether agents with the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives -- or ATF -- allowed the gun to go to Mexico or didn't act fast enough to stop it.
At Monday's hearing, a prosecutor said the gun was purchased in October 2010 and that Osorio told ATF agents after his arrest that the weapon was smuggled to Mexico later that same month.
The investigation into the gun ring didn't begin until the following month when police found a cache of weapons during a traffic stop in South Texas, said ATF agent Tom Crowley.
The agency has been under scrutiny for allowing some guns to "walk" to Mexico in a failed and highly criticized operation known as "Fast and Furious." ATF supervisors in Arizona claimed they were trying to follow the trail to higher-ups in Mexican drug cartels.
Agents in Texas have never knowingly allowed guns to go to Mexico, Crowley said.
Editor's Note: The original article incorrectly stated the gun was bought in Joshua, it was bought in Fort Worth from a Joshua gun dealer.