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Family of murdered Border Patrol agent files $25M claim against ATF

brian_terry.jpg

This undated photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry. (AP)

The family of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry has filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives claiming Terry was killed with AK-47s that were knowingly sold under the Fast and Furious gunrunning probe to a straw purchaser for drug cartels.

In a 65-page complaint, served on the government on Wednesday, attorneys for the family claim ATF "wrongdoing" in Operation Fast and Furious.

“ATF's failures were not only negligent but in violation of ATF's own policies and procedures," the complaint claims.

The family has also filed a claim against the Lone Wolf Trading Company seeking unspecified damages for negligence in selling the weapons to the purchaser and aiding and abetting in Mexican drug cartels’ conduct.

The claim says Lone Wolf knowingly sold "hundreds of weapons" to various straw purchasers and in turn realized "hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits from these sales."

The claim alleges that "but for defendants' negligent and illegal sales ... Brian Terry would not have been murdered in the Arizona desert on Dec. 14, 2010."

The family is seeking a jury trial.

The government now has six months to respond or the Terry family will file a suit for the $25 million.

According to the claim, agent Terry was patrolling near Rio Rico on the night of Dec. 14, 2010 when he was shot and killed by criminals yielding assault rifles. Those rifles were traced to a straw purchaser for Mexican drug cartels in Arizona who the ATF knew about and allowed to deliver the weapons to the cartels.

“The murder of agent Terry and other acts of violent crimes were the natural consequence of ATF's decision to let dangerous weapons designed to kill human beings 'walk' into the hands of violent drug-trafficking gangs,” the complaint reads.

The claim also contends that the circumstances that led to Terry’s murder were not isolated events, but rather there were thousands of guns purchased under occasional ATF surveillance with no way of tracking all the weapons from straw purchases.

In a second claim filed against Lone Wolf Trading Company, the Terrys say the company should have recognized the illegal and risky nature of the purchases, but it instead ignored its legal obligation under federal and state law to refuse illegal firearm sales.

The company was not only aware that the purchases were illegal and part of the Fast and Furious operation, but it also knew the ATF did not arrest the purchasers and let the straw buyers continue to make illegal buys, according to the claim.

Both the ATF and Lone Wolf were unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

The family stated in their claim against the ATF that Christmas 2010 was to be the first the family was to spend together in three years because of Brian’s ATF duties. Brian was killed two days before he was to fly home to Michigan.