The federal government has secured its first conviction in the killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, an incident that led to the uncovering of the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal.
Manuel Osorio-Arellanes pled guilty to first degree murder in federal court in Tucson in exchange for prosecutors promising not to seek the death penalty.
In a copy of the agreement published by the Arizona Daily Star
, Osorio-Arellanes said the shooting occurred as part of a plan to rob marijuana smugglers using weapons that had been hidden on the U.S. side of the border. However, the group encountered border agents and a firefight ensued. Agent Terry was killed, Osorio-Arellanes wounded and arrested, and others involved in the scheme fled.
Fast and Furious was a one of a series of gun tracking operations designed to snare drug lords using illegal weapons. However, the scheme allowed thousands of guns to fall into the hands of violent Mexican drug cartels and led to the death of Agent Terry, who was killed Dec. 14, 2010 with guns linked to the operation.
The ensuing scandal has led to a host of congressional hearings, investigations, and congressional contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder for alleged failure to turn over documents.
In July, the Justice Department brought charges against five individuals in the death of Agent Terry. In addition to Osorio-Arellanes, charges were also brought against Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, and Lionel Portillo-Meza.
The charges include first degree murder, second degree murder, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery, use and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, assault on a federal officer, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
The Justice Department also charged Rito Osorio-Arellanes, Manuel’s brother, with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery. He is currently in custody and Mexican authorities said in September they had arrested Leonel Sanchez Jesus Meza, who used the alias Lionel Portillo-Meza.
The Justice Department has issued a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of the other fugitives.
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