Authorities make final arrest in border agent’s killing
PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities in Mexico have arrested the final of seven defendants accused in the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent whose death exposed a bungled federal gun operation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga was arrested Saturday without incident and faces first-degree murder and other charges in the December 2010 killing of 40-year-old Brian Terry in Arizona. The 37-year-old is the last of the defendants in the case, including five men who have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty in federal court in Tucson. Another suspect, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, was arrested in Mexico in April, but a judge has yet to approve his extradition to the U.S.
Favela-Astorga was a member of a crew that planned on robbing marijuana smugglers when it encountered Terry and other agents who were on a stakeout in the southern Arizona desert, authorities said.
The killing unveiled the Fast and Furious operation, in which federal agents allowed criminals to buy guns with the intention of tracking them to criminal organizations. But the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lost most of the guns, including two that were found at scene of Terry’s death.
The operation set off political backlash against the Obama administration and led the agent’s family to sue.
Terry was in an elite Border Patrol unit staking out the southern Arizona desert for “rip-off” crew members who rob drug smugglers. The four-man team encountered a group and identified themselves as police in trying to arrest them.
But authorities say the men refused to stop, prompting an agent to fire non-lethal bean bags at them. They responded by firing from AK-47-type assault rifles. Terry was struck in the back and died shortly afterward.
Among those already serving time are Manual Osorio-Arellanes, who pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2014, and Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza and Ivan Soto-Barraza, who were found guilty of murder and other charges in 2015.
A man who was not present during the shooting but is charged with assembling the rip-off crew, Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez, also pleaded guilty to murder.
Rito Osorio-Arellanes, who was not at the shooting, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.