TUCSON, Ariz. – A seventh suspect in the 2010 killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent has been charged in the slaying that is at the center of a scandal over a botched U.S. gun-smuggling probe known as Operation Fast and Furious.
Federal prosecutors say 30-year-old Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez faces charges of first-degree murder and other crimes. He is already in custody for immigration-related crimes.
Burboa-Alvarez is accused of assembling the armed crew that was supposed to steal marijuana from smugglers when they encountered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and others on Dec. 14, 2010.
A gun fight between the so-called “rip-off crew” and border agents ensued. Terry was killed. Authorities later discovered that two of the guns found at the scene of the murder had been part of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation in which the federal government allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them once they made their way into Mexico. But the agency lost track of more than 1,400 of the 2,000 guns they allowed smugglers to buy.
The scandal resulted in the resignation of top officials. The country’s chief law enforcement officer, Eric Holder, was held in contempt after he refused to divulge documents for a congressional investigation.
Since then, authorities have focused on arresting and trying all suspects involved.
The first of those was Manual Osorio-Arellanes, who was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison in February after pleading guilty to first-degree murder. Osorio-Arellanes was wounded in the shooting and maintains that he was not the shooter. Prosecutors agree that he was likely not the one who shot Terry, but say he should still be held accountable for his role in the agent’s death.
Two others who were at the scene of the slaying are facing charges in Arizona after being extradited from Mexico.
Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza, also known as Lionel Portillo-Meza, was extradited in June. Ivan Soto-Barraza, 34, was captured in Mexico last September and was brought to the U.S. on July 31. Two others remain fugitives: Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga and Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes.
The suspects in custody are being prosecuted in federal court in Tucson by prosecutors from San Diego.