But at the very least, the Columbus case hints at how difficult it became to trace the walking guns, says Dave Kopel, a Second Amendment expert at the Independence Institute in Golden, Colo. The whereabouts of some 1,400 Fast and Furious guns remain unknown.
In January 2010, Border Patrol agents near Columbus stopped two locals, Blas “Woody” Gutierrez, a town councilor, and Miguel Carillo, and found a cache of eight guns in their trunk, six of which were among the Fast and Furious collection. Nothing suspicious came up when the agents attempted to trace their provenance, but, as it emerged five months later, six of the guns were linked to Operation Fast and Furious.
The original source of the pair’s weapons, an alleged straw buyer known to BATFE named Jaime Avila, has been tied to two WASR-10 rifles found near the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed by bandits in a shootout near Nogales, Ariz. in December 2010. Bureaucratic delays apparently led to the registration numbers of the Columbus guns not being entered into a federal database in time for the Border Patrol to get the information and alert BATFE.
Though the connection to Fast and Furious is not mentioned in the indictments against the Columbus 11, the details of that link were established by CPI through interviews with government officials, agency memos, and court records.