Mexican authorities said Thursday they’ve arrested one of the fugitives wanted on murder charges in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry — a shooting that drew new attention to the dangerous border and exposed a botched Obama administration gun crimes probe.
Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes was part of a five-man “rip crew” that patrolled the border looking to rob drug smugglers, U.S. officials said. A team of agents got on their trail in December 2014 and the crew decided to shoot it out, killing Terry in the exchange.
Two of the weapons the crew used were part of the Obama administration’s botched Operation Fast and Furious, which had allowed straw purchasers to buy weapons in the U.S. and then smuggle them back to Mexico, where many ended up in the hands of the cartels.
Terry’s slaying put an end to the operation.
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly praised Mexico for the arrest Thursday, at a time when relations between the two countries have been otherwise strained by President Trump’s rhetorical jabs at the U.S.’ southern neighbor.
“Under the Trump administration, we have renewed our cooperation with Mexico to better secure our border and address cross-border crime,” Mr. Kelly said. “This latest arrest illustrates the commitment of the administration to seek justice for the brave law enforcement personnel who risk their lives every day to protect the border.”
Four other members of the rip crew have already been apprehended. Still at large is Jesus Favela-Astorga.
U.S. officials had offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Mr. Osorio-Arellanes. The Associated Press reported he is being processed for extradition to the U.S. He was indicted in 2011, along with the other suspects, in federal court in Arizona.
The Fast and Furious operation was an Obama administration initiative designed to track guns that were being bought in the Southwest by straw purchasers who then sold them to criminals.
But the American authorities overseeing the operation lost track of the guns they allowed to be bought, and hundreds of them ended up with Mexican cartels, where they were used in some of the country’s horrific drug war killings.
Terry’s slaying also drew attention to the dangerous border region, which has seen drug cartels command large swaths of U.S. territory.
The rip crew regularly snuck into the U.S. and patrolled American territory in Arizona, looking in particular for marijuana smugglers who could be robbed, according to U.S. authorities.
The Border Patrol team that Terry had been part of had recently begun trying to track down the crew. The night of the encounter, four agents got onto the trail of the rip crew. They identified themselves, in Spanish, as police, and the gunbattle ensued.
Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.