Two found guilty in shooting death of border agent

Published: Oct. 1, 2015 at 3:35 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 26, 2015 at 6:56 PM MST
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Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza or Lionel Portillo-Meza. (Source: FBI)
Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza or Lionel Portillo-Meza. (Source: FBI)

ARIZONA (Tucson News Now) - Two of the men accused of killing a U.S. Border Patrol agent in 2010 have been found guilty on all counts.

Ivan Soto-Barraza and Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza faced nine counts, including murder and assault on a federal officer, in connection with the shooting death of Brian Terry in December 2010.

Seven men have been accused in the killing. Three have already pleaded guilty while authorities are searching for the final two suspects.

Soto-Barraza and Sanchez-Meza, who is also known as Lionel Portillo-Meza, were allegedly members of a "rip-off" crew that set out to rob marijuana smugglers in the Arizona desert.

The crew encountered federal agents patrolling the area on Dec. 14, 2010 and a gunfight ensued, resulting in Terry's death.

Terry's sister, Michelle Terry-Balogh, spoke after the verdicts Thursday saying she could not help but react after the first guilty verdict was read.

"When I heard the first conviction of first degree murder, my heart knew then that we would get it all the way," said Balogh.

Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Aug. 11, 2015. He is facing a 30-year prison term when he is sentenced in October. Authorities said Burboa was responsible for organizing the "rip-off" crew.

Manuel Osorio Arellanes pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in February 2014 and was sentenced to 30 years.

Rito Osorio-Arellanes, who was in custody at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery in February 2013. He was sentenced to eight years.

Authorities are still searching for Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga and Heraclio Osorio- Arellanes. Both are wanted on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery, use and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence and assault on a federal officer.

Terry's death exposed the federal "Fast and Furious" operation, in which federal agents allowed criminals to buy weapons.  The plan was to track the firearms into Mexico, but instead, the agents lost track of most of them.

Two of those weapons were found at the site of the gun battle where Terry was killed.

Balogh says full justice will come when the officials responsible for botching that operation are punished.

"We're looking for all those responsible to be held accountable for their actions in my brother's death," said Balogh.  "And Brian, he's got to be happy."

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