’Fast & Furious’ cartel hitman who killed Border Patrol agent arrested in Mexico

’Fast & Furious’ cartel hitman who killed Border Patrol agent arrested in Mexico
The drug cartel hitman suspected of killing US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry has been arrested in Mexico. Terry’s death in 2010 exposed the US government’s gunwalking operation involving Mexican drug cartels, dubbed ‘Fast and Furious.’

Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, identified as the man who fired the shots that killed Terry in December 2010, was arrested Wednesday at a ranch on the border of Sinaloa and Chihuahua, Fox News reported, citing US and Mexican government sources.

The US Marshals, Border Patrol, and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reportedly took part in the operation alongside Mexican law enforcement. Osorio is currently being held in Mexico, and the US government will seek his extradition.

Osorio was identified as one of the cartel ‘rip crew’ that roamed the US-Mexican border, seeking to ambush smugglers. Terry was killed when his patrol ran into Osorio’s group in Arizona’s Peck Canyon. Four members of the group were arrested, and two assault rifles were found at the scene. The guns were quickly traced to a store in Phoenix, Arizona – and blew open a secret ‘gunwalking’ operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Dubbed ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ after the hit movie franchise, the operation sought to catch senior cartel figures by letting straw buyers of US weapons walk and be tracked. However, the government lost track of 1,400 out of 2,000 guns sold under the program.

A 471-page congressional report, published in 2012, concluded that the program posed a "significant danger to public safety” and was plagued by a “pattern of serious failures” and "a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures.”

The probe was a major scandal for the Obama administration. Barack Obama invoked executive privilege for the first time in his presidency, while his attorney general, Eric Holder, was found in contempt of Congress – the first time for a sitting Cabinet official in history –  when he refused to hand over internal DOJ documents about the program under subpoena. Several high-ranking ATF and DOJ officials resigned following the report.

Weapons related to the program were implicated in at least 150 deaths of Mexican civilians, according to Humberto Benítez Treviño, member of the Chamber of Deputies and former Mexican attorney general.

“This was an undercover program that wasn't properly controlled,” Benitez told the Los Angeles Times in 2011.

Four other members of the cartel ‘rip crew’ have already been convicted. Manuel Osorio-Arellanes pleaded guilty to Terry’s murder in 2014 and was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. Ivan Soto-Barraza and Jesus Sanchez-Meza were convicted after a jury trial in October 2015, and sentenced to life in prison. Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez was sentenced to 27 years as part of a plea deal.

The last remaining member of the group, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, remains at large.