Mex­i­can pleads guilty in killing of U.S. bor­der agent

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY JERRY SEPER

A Mex­i­can na­tional charged in the killing of a U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol agent dur­ing a De­cem­ber 2010 gun­fight along the Ari­zona-Mex­ico bor­der pleaded guilty Oct. 30 in fed­eral court in Tuc­son.

Manuel Oso­rio-Arel­lanes, who pre­vi­ously had pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and as­sault on a fed­eral of­fi­cer fol­low­ing his Dec. 15, 2010, ar­rest in the shoot­ing death of Bor­der Pa­trol Agent Brian A. Terry, changed the plea to guilty to first-de­gree murder.

Pros­e­cu­tors agreed not to seek the death penalty, but Oso­ri­oArel­lanes faces up to life in prison when sen­tenced on Jan. 11 by U.S. Dis­trict Judge David Bury.

Two WASR-10/63 semi-au­to­matic as­sault ri­fles — a Ro­ma­nian AK-47 vari­ant — found at the site of the killing were traced to the botched Fast and Fu­ri­ous gun­run­ning in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Oso­rio-Arel­lanes was shot dur­ing the gun­fight and has been in cus­tody since the night of the shoot­ing. His was the first con­vic­tion in the nearly two-year-old case.

While fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors have not said who ac­tu­ally fired the fatal shot, records show that five il­le­gal im­mi­grants armed with at least two semi-au­to­matic as­sault ri­fles were hunt­ing for Bor­der Pa­trol agents near a desert wa­ter­ing hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Ari­zona-Mex­ico bor­der when a gun­fight erupted and Terry was fa­tally wounded. A sealed fed­eral grand jury in­dict­ment said the Mex­i­can na­tion­als were “pa­trolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14, 2010, with the in­tent to “in­ten­tion­ally and forcibly as­sault” Bor­der Pa­trol agents.

At least two of the Mex­i­cans car­ried their as­sault ri­fles “at the ready po­si­tion,” one of sev­eral de­tails about the at­tack show­ing that Mex­i­can smug­glers are be­com­ing more ag­gres­sive on the U.S. side of the bor­der.

Ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ment, the Mex­i­cans were “pa­trolling the area in sin­gle-file for­ma­tion” a dozen miles north­west of the bor­der town of No­gales and opened fire on four Bor­der Pa­trol agents af­ter the agents iden­ti­fied them­selves in Span­ish as po­lice of­fi­cers.

Us­ing ther­mal binoc­u­lars, one of the agents de­ter­mined that at least two of the Mex­i­cans were car­ry­ing ri­fles, but ac­cord­ing to an af­fi­davit in the case by FBI agent Scott Hunter, when the Mex­i­cans did not drop their weapons as or­dered, two agents used their shot­guns to fire “less than lethal” bean­bags at them. At least one of the Mex­i­cans opened fire and, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit, Terry, a 40-year-old for­mer Marine, was shot in the back.

A Bor­der Pa­trol shooting­in­ci­dent re­port said that Terry called out, “I’m hit,” and then fell to the ground, a bul­let hav­ing pierced his aorta. “I can’t feel my legs,” Terry told one of the agents who cra­dled him. “I think I’m par­a­lyzed.” Bleed­ing pro­fusely, he died at the scene.

Af­ter the ini­tial shots, two agents re­turned fire, hit­ting Oso­rio-Arel­lanes in the ab­domen and leg. The oth­ers fled. The FBI af­fi­davit said Oso­rio-Arel­lanes ad­mit­ted dur­ing an in­ter­view that all five Mex­i­cans were armed.

Oso­rio-Arel­lanes, 33, ini­tially was charged with il­le­gal en­try, but that case was dis­missed when the in­dict­ment was handed up. It named Oso­rio-Arel­lanes on a charge of sec­ond-de­gree murder, but did not iden­tify him as the likely shooter, say­ing only that Oso­rio-Arel­lanes and oth­ers whose names were blacked out “did un­law­fully kill with mal­ice afore­thought United States Bor­der Pa­trol Agent Brian Terry while Agent Terry was en­gaged in … his of­fi­cial du­ties.”

The in­dict­ment also noted that Oso­rio-Arel­lanes had been con­victed in Phoenix in 2006 of felony ag­gra­vated as­sault, had been de­tained twice in 2010 as an il­le­gal im­mi­grant, and had been re­turned to Mex­ico re­peat­edly.

The in­dict­ment lists the names of other sus­pects in the shoot­ing, but they are redacted.

In the Terry killing, the two as­sault ri­fles found at the scene were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing been pur­chased in a Glen­dale, Ariz., gun shop as part of the Bureau of Al­co­hol, Tobacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives’ (ATF) failed Fast and Fu­ri­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.