TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - A federal jury on Tuesday, Feb. 12, convicted Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes of participating in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry during a firefight on Dec. 14, 2010. He is the sixth of seven defendants to be convicted so far according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The jury found that Osorio-Arellanes was part of an armed crew that was looking to rob drug smugglers reported to be transporting drugs from Mexico into the U.S. at the time. Agent Terry was part of a BP unit attempting to arrest the men in a rural area north of Nogales, AZ, when the gunfight broke out.
The defendant was convicted of nine counts, including first-degree murder, second degree murder, conspiracy to effect interstate commerce by robbery, attempted robbery, assault on four BP Agents and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.
“Brian Terry’s family will never have its hero back, but his loved ones now have justice,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer of the Southern District of California, in the release. "The jury’s verdict is the right outcome not only for the family, but for the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol who daily put their lives at risk to protect this country."
According to evidence presented by the government during the week-long trial, Agent Terry had been hit by the gunfire, calling out to his fellow agents that he couldn’t feel his legs and wasn’t sure where he had been hit. A bullet from an AK-47 hit near his spine, severing the spinal cord and aorta, his crew struggled to save him, but were not able to.
Evidence also proved that five members of the rip crew were carrying four loaded AK-47 assault weapons, an AR-15 semiautomatic assault weapon, 180 rounds of spare ammunition and food to last for days.
After the incident ended, Osorio-Arellanes fled the scene, leaving behind his brother, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, who had been shot in the stomach in the exchange of gunfire. The brother was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison after cooperating with the government in identifying the other members of the rip crew who were fugitives.
U.S. District Judge David C. Bury set Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes’ sentencing for April 29, 2019.
Osorio-Arellanes is one of seven defendants charged in the District of Arizona with murder and other crimes arising from the murder of Agent Terry. Osorio-Arellanes was taken into custody in 2017 by Mexican authorities in Chihuahua, based on a provisional arrest warrant issued at the request of the U.S. He was transported to Mexico City for extradition proceedings and arrived in the U.S. on Aug. 1, 2018.
U.S. Attorney Brewer commended the FBI and one agent in particular, Michelle Terwilliger. “Her commitment to pursuing the fugitives in this case and developing the evidence to bring them to justice is truly commendable and exemplary of the tireless work of FBI agents.”
In 2014 Defendants Ivan Soto-Barraza and Jesus Lionel Sanchez-Meza were arrested in Mexico and subsequently extradited to the U.S. They were convicted by a jury of first-degree murder and other offenses in December 2015 following a jury trial and were both sentenced to life in prison.
Defendants Manuel Osorio-Arellanes and Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez pleaded guilty to first degree murder; Manuel Osorio-Arellanes was sentenced to 360 months in prison, while Burboa-Alvarez was sentenced to 324 months. Defendant Rito Osorio-Arellanes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and was sentenced to 96 months in prison.
Defendant Jesus Favela-Astorga was arrested by Mexican authorities pursuant to a provisional arrest request filed by the U.S. Government. He is pending extradition to the U.S. and will be tried in Tucson following his arrival.
The case is being prosecuted by attorneys from the Southern District of California, Special Attorneys Todd W. Robinson and David Leshner. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is recused.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The apprehension was a coordinated effort by the Mexican Navy (SEMAR), Mexico’s Office of the Attorney General (PGR), FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Border Patrol with significant assistance provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.