5 Mex­i­cans were ‘pa­trolling’ when bor­der agent was killed

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JERRY SEPER

A Mex­i­can na­tional who pleaded guilty in the fa­tal shoot­ing of a U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol agent — whose 2010 death led to a con­gres­sional probe of the botched “Fast and Fu­ri­ous” gun­run­ning op­er­a­tion — was part of a group of five Mex­i­cans armed with semi­au­to­matic as­sault ri­fles who were “pa­trolling” north of the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der with the in­tent to “in­ten­tion­ally and forcibly as­sault” U.S. bor­der agents. The in­tent of the five Mex­i­cans is out­lined in a pre­vi­ously sealed fed­eral in­dict­ment de­scrib­ing the killing of Bor­der Pa­trol Agent Brian A. Terry, who was gunned down Dec. 14, 2010, in the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon north of No­gales, Ariz.

The in­dict­ment said the Mex­i­cans were hunt­ing for bor­der agents near a desert wa­ter­ing hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Ari­zon­aMex­ico bor­der when a fire­fight erupted shortly be­fore mid­night and Terry was killed. 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 and opened fire on four Bor­der Pa­trol agents af­ter the agents had iden­ti­fied them­selves in Span­ish as po­lice of­fi­cers.

Manuel Oso­rio-Arel­lanes pleaded guilty in the killing on Oct. 30, ad­mit­ting in court he was part of a “rip-off” crew that sought to rob mar­i­juana smug­glers. He was wounded dur­ing the gun­fight and has been held in cus­tody since the shoot­ing. He told pros­e­cu­tors that while he raised his weapon at the agents, he did not shoot any of them.

His sen­tenc­ing is sched­uled Jan. 11 be­fore U.S. District Judge David Bury in Ari­zona. Pros­e­cu­tors have agreed not to seek the death penalty, but Oso­rio-Arel­lanes faces life in prison for the first-de­gree mur­der con­vic­tion.

Two AK-47 as­sault ri­fles found at the scene of the killing came from the failed Fast and Fu­ri­ous op­er­a­tion.

An af­fi­davit in the case by FBI agent Scott Hunter said 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 U.S. Marine, was shot in the back.

A Bor­der Pa­trol shooting­in­ci­dent report said 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, 33, in the ab­domen and leg. The oth­ers fled. The FBI af­fi­davit said Oso­ri­oArel­lanes ad­mit­ted dur­ing an in­ter­view that all five of the Mex­i­cans were armed. Peck Canyon is a no­to­ri­ous drugsmug­gling cor­ri­dor.

The in­dict­ment ini­tially named Oso­rio-Arel­lanes on a charge of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, but did not iden­tify him as the likely shooter, say­ing only that he and oth­ers “did un­law­fully kill with mal­ice afore­thought United States Bor­der Pa­trol Agent Brian Terry while Agent Terry was en­gaged in ... his of­fi­cial du­ties.”

A sec­ond Mex­i­can sus­pected in the case, Je­sus Leonel Sanchez-Meza, was ar­rested by Mex­i­can po­lice in Puerto Pe­nasco, Sonora in Septem­ber. Three other sus­pects, Je­sus Rosario Favela-As­torga, Ivan Soto-Bar­raza and Her­a­clio Oso­rio-Arel­lanes are fugi­tives. The U.S. government has of­fered a $1 mil­lion re­ward for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to their cap­ture.

In the Terry killing, t wo Ro­ma­nian-made AK-47 as­sault ri­fles found at the scene were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing been pur­chased in a Glen­dale, Ariz., gun shop as part of the Fast and Fu­ri­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

More than 250 in­cur­sions by Mex­i­can mil­i­tary per­son­nel into the United States have been doc­u­mented in the past sev­eral years. The Bor­der Pa­trol has warned agents in Ari­zona that many of the in­trud­ers were “trained to es­cape, evade and counter-am­bush” if de­tected. The agency cau­tioned agents to keep “a low pro­file,” to use “cover and con­ceal­ment” in ap­proach­ing the Mex­i­can units, to em­ploy “shad­ows and cam­ou­flage” to con­ceal them­selves and to “stay as quiet as pos­si­ble.”

Sev­eral of the in­cur­sions oc­curred in the same area where Terry was killed, in­clud­ing a 2005 in­ci­dent in which two agents were wounded by as­sailants dressed in black com­mando-type cloth­ing in what law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties said was a planned am­bush. More than 50 rounds were fired at the agents af­ter they spot­ted the gun­men.

Many Mex­i­can drug car­tel lead­ers have tar­geted Bor­der Pa­trol agents and state and lo­cal po­lice, some­times of­fer­ing boun­ties of up to $50,000.

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