- Mexican Jesús Rosario Favela Astorga was the last defendant sentenced for the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, which occurred on December 14, 2010.
The seventh and final defendant was sentenced in the 2010 shooting that killed CBP agent Brian A. Terry, a case that exposed a failed federal weapons operation known as Operation “Fast and Furious.”
Mexican Jesús Rosario Favela Astorga, 41, was arrested by Mexican authorities in October 2017 on a provisional warrant. He was extradited to the United States in January 2020 and pleaded guilty in the case in April this year.
Favela Astorga’s sentencing “brings justice to the latest killers of US Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry,” Tucson Sector Patrol Chief John Modlin said.
Jesús Rosario Favela Astorga was sentenced to 50 years in prison Wednesday in a Tucson court, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Yesterday's sentencing brings justice to the last of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry’s murderers. Killed in the line of duty December 15, 2010, Agent Terry will always be remembered.https://t.co/qFkXAzmDaW
— John R. Modlin (@USBPChiefTCA) September 22, 2022
Favela Astorga is the seventh and final defendant to be sentenced in connection with the December 14, 2010 death of federal CBP agent Brian Terry.
Terry’s death exposed the “Fast and Furious” operation in which federal agents allowed criminals to purchase firearms with the intent of tracing them to criminal organizations.
During the “Fast and Furious” investigation, nearly 2,000 firearms were found to have been illegally purchased for $1.5 million, according to a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general. Hundreds of weapons were subsequently recovered in the United States and Mexico.
But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lost track of most of the weapons, including two found at the scene of Terry’s death near the Arizona-Mexico border. The Obama administration was criticized for the disaster that Operation Fast and Furious represented.
A federal judge in Arizona sentenced Favela Astorga on Wednesday, after the Mexican pleaded guilty to being part of a criminal group that had traveled from Mexico to the United States to rob marijuana smugglers.
Terry and other members of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) had deployed an operation to stop the gang. On December 14, around midnight, agents attempted to arrest the group in a rural area north of Nogales, Arizona.
But a gang member shot the officer in the back, fatally wounding him.
Evidence presented against other gang members involved in the murder in trials held in 2015 and 2019 revealed that Terry called a partner after being injured. “Willie, I’m hurt! I can’t feel my legs,” he said.
BORTAC agents, still under fire, tried unsuccessfully to save Terry.
Evidence established that all five assailants at the scene, including Favela Astorga, were armed with four AK-47-style assault rifles and one AR-15 assault rifle.
Favela Astorga and others fled back to Mexico, leaving behind Manuel Osorio Arellanes, who had been shot in the stomach by officers in the exchange of fire.
Osorio Arellanes was found guilty and sentenced in 2014 to 30 years in prison, after cooperating in the identification of the other members of the gang who were fugitives.
Mexican authorities arrested Favela Astorga in October 2017 at the request of US authorities. He was extradited to the United States in January 2020.
The other gang members at the crime scene are Heraclio Osorio Arellanes, Iván Soto Barraza and Jesús Lionel Sánchez Meza, arrested in Mexico years after the shooting and extradited.
Soto Barraza and Sánchez Meza were sentenced to life in prison by a jury in December 2015. Heraclio Osorio Arellanes was sentenced in February 2019 to life in prison.
For his part, Rosario Rafael Burboa Álvarez pleaded guilty to murder and, although she was not in the shooting, admitted that she recruited the members of the gang in Mexico. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
Border Patrol agents also arrested Rito Osorio Arellanes for immigration violations two days before the shooting, unaware that he was part of the criminal gang. Osorio later pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
US Attorney Randy S. Grossman said in a statement that US authorities will “relentlessly seek justice for as long as necessary” against those who harm their agents.
For his part, Chris Ormerod, in charge of the FBI office in Phoenix, said he hopes that this latest sentence “helps provide a degree of comfort to the family of agent Terry knowing that all the individuals responsible for his murder have been brought to justice. before the court”.