March 1, 2011 / 8:48 PM / 9 years ago

Man tied to Mexico shooting of U.S. agent arrested

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. authorities arrested a Texas man who had originally bought one of the guns used in a shooting in Mexico that killed a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent and wounded a second agent, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Otilio Osorio, 22, was arrested with his brother Ranferi Osorio, 27, for illegally possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers, but no charges were included in the complaint related to the shooting of the agents in Mexico last month.

They were arrested near Dallas on Monday along with their neighbor, Kelvin Morrison, on charges that they were illegally trafficking firearms to Mexico that were subsequently used by the drug cartels, according to the Justice Department.

Weapons and drug trafficking as well as escalating violence along the U.S.-Mexico border has been a major concern for both countries.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has made it a top priority to enhance cooperation with the United States to crush the drug cartels. More than 34,000 deaths are blamed on drug violence since he came into office in 2006.

The criminal complaint against Otilio Osorio said he bought the gun used in the Mexico shooting on October 10 and ballistics testing had indicated that it was used in the February 15 shooting in which ICE agent Jaime Zapata was killed.

Zapata and a second ICE agent, Victor Avila, were driving back to Mexico City from San Luis Potosi in an armored sport utility vehicle when they were attacked in broad daylight on a major highway.

Mexican security forces have arrested six men, four women and a minor so far in connection with the attack, all of whom are allegedly linked to the Zetas drug gang.

The Osorio brothers and Morrison drew scrutiny by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in November as the agencies investigated efforts by the Zetas gang to buy guns in the United States and smuggle them to Mexico.

The three were observed delivering a cache of firearms to an ATF confidential informant in November with the understanding that they would be taken to Mexico, according to the complaint.

Editing by Mohammad Zargham

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