One of the Mexican gunmen who killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent, consequently sparking the Obama administration’s “Fast and Furious” scandal, was sentenced to life in prison.
U.S. District Judge David C. Bury on Wednesday sentenced Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes to life in federal prison for first-degree murder. The sentencing follows Osorio-Arellanes’ involvement in a 2010 border shootout between Mexican gunmen and U.S. officials, resulting in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
“Today brings us one step closer to justice for Agent Brian Terry’s murder,” Tucson Sector Chief Roy Villareal, who was joined by roughly 20 other agents at the hearing, said in a statement. “The sentencing brings a painful time closer to an end and serves as a reminder of the grave dangers our agents face in their selfless commitment to the safety of their communities and country.”
Terry’s two sisters issued their own emotional statements on Wednesday, describing their immense pain after losing him.
He “was a man filled with so much dedication to keeping our country safe,” said sister Kelly Willis, adding that he would lit up any room he walked into with his smile. “You would think the time lessens the heartache, but it doesn’t.”
Terry — a Marine before joining Customs and Border Protection — was a member of an elite, four-man Border Patrol unit that was patrolling the Arizona desert in December 2010. Osorio-Arellanes was part of an armed gang that was looking to rob drug smugglers passing through the U.S-Mexico border.
Terry’s unit enoucntered the gang in area north of Nogales. However, when the men refused to stop, they fired bean bags. Osorio-Arellanes and his men, in response, fired AK047-type assault rifles. Terry, 40 years old at the time, was struck in the back and ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
Osorio-Arellanes fled the scene and evaded justice for many years. However, he was eventually arrested in 2017 by Mexican authorities in Chihuahua. He was extradited to the U.S. in 2018 and then convicted in February 2019. The Mexican national is the sixth of seven defendants to be convicted for the 2010 shooting so far.
The deadly shootout sparked a massive scandal involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) “Fast and Furious” operation, which involved the federal government allowing criminals to purchase firearms in Arizona in a bid to track the guns to criminal organizations in Mexico. It was discovered that the U.S. government lost track of most of the guns that were sold.
Two of the guns from the “Fast and Furious” operation were located at the scene of Terry’s death.
The ensuing scandal brought immense scrutiny onto the Obama administration. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was found in contempt by Congress for his refusal to turn over documents about the botched sting operation.
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