Under a plea deal, the U.S. government won't pursue the death penalty for a man facing murder charges for killing a U.S. Border Patrol agent during a gunfight that used gang weapons linked to the Justice Department's botched "gun-walking" program Operation Fast and Furious. The Justice Department indicted Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez last year in connection with the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Under the plea deal, Alvarez pleaded guilty to one count of murder Monday and now faces 360 months in prison, local media reported Monday.
Terry was killed during a gunfight between Border Patrol agents and members of a gang attempting to steal marijuana from smugglers. Two AK-47 variants found at the crime scene were later identified as part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gun-walking program, Operation Fast and Furious. The operation was aimed at tracking guns bought at a Phoenix-area gunstore and used by cartel gunmen in Mexico. Instead, ATF lost track of more than 2,000 of those weapons.
Terry's supporters have slammed the government for not pursuing more aggressive sentences in the shooting involving Mexican nationals. Under the plea agreement, the United States also dismissed all other charges against Burboa-Alvarez, including charges of interfering with federal officers and killing Terry with "malice aforethought."
Another man involved in the gunfight, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, initially faced life in prison but was ultimately sentenced to 30 years in 2012. He was wounded in the shooting and has said he did not shoot Terry. Jaime Avila Jr., the Operation Fast and Furious gun buyer who purchased the two AK-47s found at the scene of the gunfight, was sentenced in 2012 to 57 months.
RPT: Man charged in murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry given plea deal https://t.co/Nmo91NGlCa
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Burboa-Alvarez was identified as the recruiter for the gang that fought Terry's elite Bortac [Border Patrol Tactical] unit in the desert in December 2010. Under his alleged crime ring, Burboa-Alvarez would recruit people to rob drug smugglers of their marijuana loads. His workers came across Terry's tactical unit after they entered the U.S. from Mexico, retrieved a stash of weapons and food and began hunting drug smugglers.
Burboa-Alvarez was arrested by Border Patrol agents Oct. 2, 2012, when he was caught doing surveillance on a target for drug robbers. He had been in the United States illegally after he was deported in 2009 for trying to sell marijuana, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Terry has been hailed as a hero since his death. A statue honoring him was unveiled in March at the now re-named Brian Terry Patrol Station in Bisbee, Arizona, the Associated Press reported.
"That iconic image of Brian carrying his Bortac team member on his shoulders represents everything good about Brian -- his strength, his determination, his attention to detail, his love for the Border Patrol and his love for his fellow agents," Terry's cousin, Robert Heyer, said at the time.