The death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry exposed a botched U.S. gun-smuggling operation.
Mexico’s Office of the Attorney General said it has begun the process to extradite the man accused of killing Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
The Mexican government has begun the process of extraditing one of the last defendants charged in the killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010, Mexican officials said.
Heraclio “Laco” Osorio-Arellanes, 38, was arrested Wednesday in the state of Chihuahua near the border of the state of Sinaloa on a provisional arrest warrant issued at the request of the United States, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.
Osorio-Arellanes is the sixth of seven defendants taken into custody in connection with the killing of Terry, 40, in a nighttime gunbattle on Dec. 14, 2010, in a remote canyon near Rio Rico in Santa Cruz County, about 10 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The gunbattle took place between Border Patrol agents who included Terry and a Mexican “rip crew” — criminal gangs that hide in the desert on the U.S. side of the border to rip off smugglers transporting drugs or migrants into the United States from Mexico.
Terry’s death touched off a major political controversy after it was revealed that two guns recovered after the Arizona shootout were linked to “Operation Fast and Furious,” a botched federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gun-trafficking probe that lost track of hundreds of weapons.
The so-called “gun-walking” scandal resulted in the 2011 resignation of U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives in 2012 voted to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over a dispute concerning “Fast and Furious”-related documents.
Osorio-Arellanes will be transported to Mexico City for extradition proceedings, according to U.S. Justice Department officials.
“The Department of Justice is pleased that the suspected killer of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has been captured and will now face justice for this terrible crime,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
Sessions said the arrest of Osario-Arellanes should send a message to criminal organizations that operate along the border.
“To anyone who would take the life of an American citizen, in particular an American law enforcement officer, this action sends a clear message: Working closely with our international partners, we will hunt you down, we will find you, and we will bring you to justice,” Sessions said.
Sessions credited efforts by the Mexican government, the Mexican navy and Mexico’s Office of the Attorney General for their “outstanding work in the daring operation that apprehended this dangerous defendant” in collaboration with the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The Mexican government released a photo of Osorio-Arellanes after his arrest, but the photo was edited to block out his eyes.
After the arrest, Mexican navy soldiers placed Osorio-Arellanes in the custody of the Criminal Investigations Agency, Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI, where he will await extradition to the United States.
It’s unclear how long the extradition process will take, but a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service told The Arizona Republic that U.S. officials are working with the Mexican government to do it “as soon as possible.”
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office, which handles extradition requests, said the U.S. government filed and Mexican judicial authorities granted a provisional request for Osorio-Arellanes in 2011, paving the way for his extradition to Arizona.
7th defendant still on the run
The last of the seven defendants charged with Terry’s slaying, Jesus Favela-Astorga, remains a fugitive in Mexico, Justice Department officials said. The FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and Mexican authorities are still trying to locate him, the officials said.
On the night of Dec. 14, 2010, Osorio-Arellanes and the six other men were patrolling in an area known as Mesquite Seep in a single-file formation with the intention of robbing marijuana smugglers, according to court records.
Some of the defendants carried firearms at the “ready” position when they encountered Border Patrol agents.
After the Border Patrol agents yelled “police,” at least two of the defendants shot at them, hitting Terry.
Defendants Ivan Soto-Barraza and Jesus Lionel Sanchez-Mesa were arrested in Mexico and subsequently extradited to the U.S. in 2014. They were convicted of first-degree murder and other offenses in December 2015 following a jury trial. They were sentenced to life in prison.
Defendants Manuel Osorio-Arellanes and Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Manuel Osorio-Arellanes was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Burboa-Alvarez was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
Defendant Rito Osorio-Arellanes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.
“Agent Terry gave his life protecting our country,” Alana W. Robinson, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, said in a statement. “While we cannot reverse this tragedy, we will not stop until justice is complete in this case.”
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