Mexican Manuel Osorio-Arellanes pleaded guilty on Tuesday to first-degree murder in the death of US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, the first conviction in a case linked to the "Fast and Furious" gunrunning operation.
Osorio-Arellanes, 36, admitted that on the night of December 14, 2010, he and four others were looking for drug traffickers to rob them of marijuana, reported CNN. The group came across Terry and other agents along Arizona's border with Mexico, leading to a gun battle.
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He also said the group arrived in the country a week before the shooting that killed Terry, and stashed guns and food supplies on the US side of the border, according to the Associated Press. Authorities have yet to release the name of the man believed to have fired the fatal shot. Of the five men charged in Terry’s death, two are in custody and three remain fugitives. Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against Osorio-Arellanes, who could face life in prison.
“Agent Terry was killed in the line of duty courageously safeguarding our border," US Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement, reported Agence France-Presse.
"Our country owes him and his family a great debt of gratitude for his ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. Today's plea is an important step in seeking justice on behalf of agent Terry."
The botched “Fast and Furious” operation was a 2009 US effort to track guns into Mexico that ended up in the hands of drug-cartels, according to AFP. It was suspended after Terry’s killing, where two of the assault weapons purposely sold to gang members as part of the operation were found. Most of the other 2000 weapons were never recovered.