Over the weekend, Mexican police arrested the last fugitive from the “rip crew” that engaged in a 2010 gunfight with Border Patrol agents, which resulted in the death of agent Brian Terry. Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, who was wanted by the FBI, was charged with first-degree murder Monday.
“The arrest of Favela Astorga resulted from the unwavering commitment of the United States and our law enforcement partners in Mexico to bring to justice those responsible for the murder of Agent Brian Terry, who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country,” acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson said in a statement.
Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, the man suspected of shooting and killing Terry, was arrested in Mexico in April. Favela-Astorga was the last remaining suspect at large. The crew involved in the shooting of Terry used weapons tied to Operation Fast and Furious.
Under that operation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) allowed criminals to buy guns in shops around Phoenix, Ariz., with the intention of tracking them once they reached the hands of Mexican drug lords.
Instead, the ATF lost control of more than 1,400 out of the 2,000 guns they allowed smugglers to purchase. Two of the Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene of Brian Terry’s death. Ostorio-Arellanes and Favela-Astorga were the two remaining members of a five-man cartel “rip crew” — a group of bandits who roam the desert along the U.S./Mexico border to rob drug smugglers of their loads, steal cash from illegal immigrants, and sexually assault women.
In June 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress after his refusal to hand over documents related to the scandal. Even 17 Democrats voted in support of the resolution authorizing Republican leaders to seek criminal charges against Holder.
Four members of the “rip crew” have already been sentenced to jail time in the U.S. A judge has yet to approve Ostorio-Arellanes‘ extradition to the U.S.
Manual Osorio-Arellanes was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in February 2014. In October 2015, Ivan Soto-Barraza and Jesus Sanchez-Meza were convicted by a federal jury of nine different charges, including first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery. Also that month, Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez, accused of assembling the “rip crew,” was sentenced to 27 years in prison after striking a plea deal with prosecutors.
No ATF agents were ever criminally charged for their role in Fast and Furious, and neither were any government officials fired. Brian Terry is only the most well-known of the hundreds who died as a result of the gun-walking scandal.
The arrest of Favela-Astorga should lead to increased interest in the Fast and Furious scandal, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should open an investigation.