Suspect pleads guilty in connection with death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

Manuel Osorio-Arellanes pleaded guilty on Tuesday to first degree murder charges in connection with the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. 

According to the plea agreement, Osorio-Arellanes admitted that he and four other Mexican nationals illegally crossed the U.S. border to rob drug traffickers in December 2010. While traveling in a remote area near the Rio Rico, Arizona, they encountered 4 Border Patrol Agents and a gunfight ensued.

“One of the shots fired by a member of the defendant’s group killed Agent Terry,” according to a written statement by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

Osorio-Arellanes, who didn’t fire the fatal shot, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison under the plea deal. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 11, 2013 in Tucson, Arizona.

“Agent Terry was killed in the line of duty courageously safeguarding our border. Our country owes him and his family a great debt of gratitude for his ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. Today’s plea is an important step in seeking justice on behalf of Agent Terry,” said Duffy.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is offering a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrests of Osorio-Arellano’s four accomplices:

  • Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga
  • Ivan Soto-Barraza
  • Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes
  • Lionel Portillo-Meza

(Portillo-Meza was apprehended in Mexico on Sept. 1, 2012 and awaiting extradition to the United States.)

Anyone with information pertaining to these suspects may call the FBI’s Phoenix field office at (623) 466-1999.

All four men have been indicted on first degree murder, robbery, conspiracy, assault and weapons charges.

Operation Fast & Furious

Terry’s death sparked a Congressional investigation into the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms after some of weapons used by Osorio-Arellano’s group were traced back to guns that were allowed to “walk” under the ATF’s surveillance.

Between 2009 and 2010, Phoenix ATF agents allowed guns purchased illegally by straw buyers to be smuggled into Mexico, where the weapons were often supplied to drug cartels and criminals, including Osorio-Arellanes’s cohorts.

In September, the Justice Department’s Inspector General issued a report strongly criticizing the DOJ and ATF’s handling of Operation Fast and Furious and it’s predecessor under the Bush administration, Operation Wide Receiver.

“We concluded that both Operation Wide Receiver and Operation Fast and Furious were seriously flawed and supervised irresponsibly by ATF’s Phoenix field division, by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and by ATF headquarters most significantly in their failure to adequately consider the risks to the public’s safety in the United States and in Mexico,” DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz told Congress.

In June, Attorney General Eric Holder became the first sitting Attorney General to be held in contempt by the House of Representative.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has accused Holder of covering up the Justice Department’s involvement in Operation Fast and Furious; Holder has testified numerous times on the case and vehemently denied Issa’s accusations and called the House contempt vote “irresponsible” and “politically motivated.”


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