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Six named in connection to killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

July 09, 2012|By Richard Serrano
  • Federal prosecutors unsealed indictments related to the shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Federal authorities in Tucson announced up to $1 million for information leading to the arrest of four fugitives wanted in the case.
Federal prosecutors unsealed indictments related to the shooting death… (Ross D. Franklin / Associated…)

Six people were named in a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Monday in Tucson, all accused of involvement in the December 2010 killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in southern Arizona.

A $1-million reward was also announced to help track down four fugitives in the case.

Federal authorities obtained the indictment in November, but unsealed it Monday after they were unable to locate the four who remain at-large.

Terry's shooting death revealed the secret federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosivesprogram called Fast and Furious. Under the program, federal law enforcement officials allowed about 2,500 illegal gun purchases along the border in the hope that it would lead them to violent Mexican drug cartels. Instead, most of the weapons were lost, and two were recovered at the scene of Terry's death south of Tucson.

The indictment alleges that the defendants were part of a "rip-off crew" of bandits preying on Mexican drug couriers on this side of the border. Terry and fellow Border Patrol agents came upon the bandits Dec. 14, 2010, and he was fatally shot in a firefight.

His death set off a mounting congressional investigation in Washington. It recently resulted in the GOP-led House finding Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress for his refusal to turn over 1,500 pages of internal Department of Justice records to congressional investigators.

Five of the defendants were charged with murder, and the sixth allegedly was a member of the bandit group and conspired to interfere with commerce by committing robbery.

Those still being sought were identified as Jesus Rosario Ravela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza.

Anyone with information about them is asked to call (623) 466-1999, your local FBI office or the nearest American embassy or consulate.

Separately, three members of a gun-smuggling ring accused of buying the rifles -- AK-47 assault rifle variants -- found after Terry's death have pleaded guilty to felony weapons charges.

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richard.serrano@latimes.com

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