By TERRY WALLACE
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 23, 2011; 8:41 PM
DALLAS -- Three Texas men were indicted on federal gun and conspiracy charges Wednesday after officials linked them to a gun used in the shooting death of a U.S. agent in Mexico.
The grand jury in Dallas returned a six-count indictment against Ranferi Osorio, 27, a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars; his 22-year-old brother, Otilio Osorio; and their 25-year-old neighbor, Kelvin Leon Morrison, all residents of the southern Dallas suburb of Lancaster.
Each is charged with a single count of conspiracy and four counts of using false statements to a dealer to acquire a firearm. The Osorio brothers also are charged with single counts of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number. All three remain in custody.
The firearms charges aren't directly related to last month's death of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico.
Messages left with attorneys representing the three defendants were not immediately returned on Wednesday.
According to the indictment, the three lied to a licensed gun dealer from July through at least November to illegally obtain at least 10 firearms that they intended to pass on to others. Federal officials have said an informant reported the firearms were being supplied to the ruthless Mexican drug cartel called Los Zetas. Mexican authorities have arrested at least two Zetas members in the agent's shooting death.
According to federal complaints filed previously, investigators said the men indicted Wednesday met a confidential informant near Dallas in November and gave him 40 guns to take into Mexico. 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 Zapata and wounding Victor Avila.
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.
The conspiracy and illegal firearm possession counts are punishable by up to five years in prison. The counts of lying to obtain firearms are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.