Thursday, July 31, 2014
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A suspect in the 2010 killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, the slaying at the center of the scandal over the botched U.S. gun-smuggling probe known as Operation Fast and Furious, was extradited to the United States from Mexico on Thursday.
Federal prosecutors said Ivan Soto-Barraza, 34, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in Tucson.
Soto-Barraza, who was captured last September in Mexico, has been indicted on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery, use and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence and assault on a federal officer, prosecutors said.
It was unclear Thursday night if he has a lawyer.
Prosecutors said Soto-Barraza is among five men accused in the Dec. 14, 2010, shooting death of Terry near the Arizona border city of Nogales.
The case brought to light the Fast and Furious operation in which federal agents trying to track guns allowed criminals to buy them for weapons smugglers. Instead, agents lost track of 1,400 of the 2,000 guns involved in the sting, including two weapons found at the scene of Terry's killing.
Prosecutors said of six defendants charged in the case so far, two have pleaded guilty, two are awaiting trial and two remain fugitives.
"The wheels of justice have moved slowly, but we're very pleased that authorities in Mexico have extradited the defendant," said Robert Heyer, Terry's cousin and the family's spokesman. "One more suspect being brought to justice."
Manuel Osorio-Arellanes pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced in February to 30 years in prison. He was the only person arrested at the scene. He maintains he was not the shooter who killed Terry, and prosecutors agree evidence supports his claim. Still, prosecutors said he is liable because he was a voluntary participant in the rip-off crew.
Rito Osorio-Arellanes, who was in custody at the time of Terry's death, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and was sentenced to eight years in prison in January 2013, according to prosecutors.
Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza, also known as Lionel Portillo-Meza, was arrested in Mexico in September 2012 and extradited to the U.S. in June and arraigned in federal court in Tucson.
He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery, use and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, and assault on a federal officer.