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Man accused of killing a Border Patrol agent is extradited from Mexico to the US to face trial

In this Nov. 13, 2016 file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent passes along a section of border wall in Hidalgo, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

A member of a drug-robbery ring suspected in the 2010 shooting death of a Border Patrol agent in Arizona has been extradited from Mexico to stand trial in the United States.

Heraclio “Laco” Osorio-Arellanes was transported to the U.S. on Tuesday, according to a statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Osorio-Arellanes is charged with several crimes including first-degree murder and is expected to be arraigned Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz., the statement said.

U.S. officials say Osorio-Arellanes was a part of a group of bandits who engaged in a 2010 shootout with Brian Terry and three other Border Patrol agents in southern Arizona.

Terry, a 40-year-old member of an elite Border Patrol tactical team, was killed in the nighttime incident. One of the alleged shooters was shot in the torso and unable to run, while five other suspects fled to Mexico and went into hiding.

Osorio-Arellanes has been in custody since he was arrested last year by Mexican authorities in the “Golden Triangle,” a region where three states intersect and drug cartels control vast stretches of territory. Authorities say he was a part of a “rip crew” that had sneaked across the border and was headed to rob marijuana dealers.

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According to court testimony, Border Patrol agents noticed the six-man crew armed with “long rifles and backpacks” and ordered them to stop. The group responded with gunfire. Terry was struck by a single bullet.

Two of the weapons recovered from the scene were later traced to the Justice Department-sanctioned gun-tracking operation known as Fast and Furious, which allowed weapons to be illegally sold in the United States so they could later be tracked across the border to drug cartels in Mexico.

The intent was to arrest cartel leaders, but most of the firearms disappeared.

Terry’s death unraveled the program and triggered one of the biggest political controversies of President Barack Obama’s first term, driving out the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which ran it.

Bringing Terry’s killers to justice has been a favorite cause of President Donald Trump, who promised the Terry family he would “open the books” on the agent’s death and the Fast and Furious operation, Terry’s cousin, Robert Heyer, told the Los Angeles Times last year.

Sessions said in his statement Tuesday that the extradition of Osorio-Arellanes was a warning.

“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,” he said.

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Of the six defendants charged along with Osorio-Arellanes in the case, three have pleaded guilty, two were convicted after a jury trial, and one other defendant, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, has not yet been tried.

Favela-Astorga was arrested by Mexican authorities in October 2017 and his extradition to the United States is pending.

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© 2018 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.