Fast & Furious: Feds Charge 5 in Death of Border Agent Brian Terry
Federal prosecutors revealed Monday they have charged five people in the shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, who was killed as a result of the fundamentally flawed federal gun-walking operation “Fast and Furious.”
The indictments of five men, accused of being involved in the gun fight that ultimately resulted in Terry’s death, were unsealed today in order to seek public assistance in locating them, according to officials. The men were reportedly in the U.S. illegally and were trying to rob drug couriers. Four of the men are now thought to be in Mexico.
Fox News reports a sixth suspect was also charged in a related incident. Further, two of the six suspects — Manuel Osario Arellanes and his brother “Rito” — are in custody. All six of the men are reportedly either related or friends.
“Agent Terry served his country honorably and made the ultimate sacrifice in trying to protect it from harm, and we will stop at nothing to bring those responsible for his murder to justice,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
Holder was found in criminal and civil contempt of Congress by the House last month over his refusal to turn over documents related to Fast and Furious.
Two of the guns that walked across the border during Fast and Furious were found at the scene of Terry’s murder and since, his death has undoubtedly been a driving force behind the probe into the operation.
“The indictment charging five individuals involved in the death of United States Border Patrol Agent Terry was unsealed today in Tucson, Arizona, and a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the arrest of four fugitives was announced by Department of Justice officials,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
“According to the indictment, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza are charged with crimes including 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. A sixth defendant, Rito Osorio-Arellanes, is charged only with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.”
Fox News has more details:
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, praised the department Monday for its announcement but questioned the timing.
“I applaud what they’re doing, but I condemn the timing. It’s very clear that the timing has everything to do with the House of Representatives holding Eric Holder in contempt,” Issa told Fox News.
Issa, who led the contempt push, said Justice could have been doing more to find the suspects all along — he called the timing of the FBI reward money “another example of using politics over good policy.”
In a statement, the Brian Terry Foundation applauded federal prosecutors for taking additional steps to bring suspects to justice, but continued to call on Holder to turn over Fast and Furious documents.
“Today’s developments certainly mean that the criminal prosecution of Brian Terry’s killers is moving forward,” Terry family attorney Patrick McGroder said
The indictment also alleges the five men assaulted the other Border Patrol agents who were with Terry.
More from the news release from the U.S. Attorney Office:
The 11-count third superseding indictment, which was handed up by a federal grand jury in the District of Arizona on Nov. 7, 2011, alleges that on Dec. 14, 2010, five of the defendants (Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza) engaged in a firefight with Border Patrol agents. During the exchange of gunfire, Agent Terry was shot and killed. The indictment alleges that the defendants had illegally entered the United States from Mexico for the purpose of robbing drug traffickers of their contraband. In addition to the murder of Agent Terry, the indictment also alleges that the five defendants assaulted Border Patrol Agents William Castano, Gabriel Fragoza and Timothy Keller, who were with Agent Terry during the firefight.
“Agent Terry served his country honorably and made the ultimate sacrifice in trying to protect it from harm, and we will stop at nothing to bring those responsible for his murder to justice,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “This investigation has previously resulted in one defendant being charged with Agent Terry’s murder and taken into custody, and today’s announcement reflects the department’s unrelenting commitment to finding and arresting the other individuals responsible for this horrific tragedy so that Agent Terry’s family, friends and fellow law enforcement agents receive the justice they deserve.”
Manuel Osorio-Arellanes has been in custody since his arrest the night of the shooting. Rito Osorio-Arellanes has been in custody since Dec. 12, 2010, when he was arrested by Border Patrol agents on immigration charges. The indictment is being unsealed today in order to seek the public’s assistance in locating the fugitive defendants.
Watch Issa explain his thoughts on the unsealing of the 11-count indictment and the curious timing of the announcement via Fox News here:
This is a breaking story and updates will be added.
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