Almost seven years have passed since the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry by guns run Mexico in Operation Fast and Furious. It’s been more than a year since one of the suspects in the killing was captured by law enforcement in Mexico, among the last to see a courtroom. Yesterday, the US took one step closer to getting justice for Terry as the suspect finally got extradited to the custody of the Department of Justice:
A man suspected of killing Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010 was extradited to the U.S. from Mexico on Tuesday, officials said.
Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, who was taken into custody in April 2017 and charged with first-degree murder, will face arraignment in Tucson, Arizona, on Wednesday, a statement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Southern District of California U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said.
It’s not the first extradition in the Terry case. Four years ago to the day, Mexico extradited Ivan Soto-Barraza on a first-degree murder charge in the murder of Terry. Fourteen months later, a jury found Soto-Barraza and Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza guilty in the murder, which resulted in a mandatory life sentence for both. That brought the number of convictions to six in the Terry case, two of whom pled out years ago.
The final two suspects remained outstanding until last year — Osorio-Arellanes and Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, whom Mexican authorities arrested last October. At one point, the DoJ announced a $1 million bounty for information leading to their arrest as well as the other suspects who subsequently got captured. There isn’t any word on whether the bounties have been paid, but given the nature of the people involved in those drug cartels, don’t be surprised if that turned out to be a very effective way to find these suspects.
It’s not clear what Favela-Astorga’s status is; the LA Times reports that his extradition is “pending.” He’d better start making plans to live the rest of his life in the US, however, or a very, very small part of it. So far it seems that Mexico has been remarkably cooperative with the DoJ in sending these suspects back, for which we almost certainly would have had to promise not to seek the death penalty. No doubt the Terry family will not be entirely displeased with that trade-off to see his killers rot in prison, even it took several years to complete that task.
That tenacity sends a message, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared in announcing the extradition yesterday:
“To anyone who would take the life of an American citizen, in particular an American law enforcement officer, this action sends a clear message: Working closely with our international partners, we will hunt you down, we will find you, and we will bring you to justice,” Sessions said.
That’s a good message to send. Now let’s finally get back to uncovering exactly who was responsible for putting those weapons in the hands of the cartels through Operation Fast and Furious — and exactly what the intent was. Eric Holder’s no longer around to obstruct that investigation, and it’s long past time we found out the answers.
Update: Edited headline and first paragraph shortly after publication.