A Mexican man accused of assembling the crew of drug robbers who killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent in a 2010 shootout in Arizona was indicted this week, the seventh person to be charged in the case.
Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez, 30, faces federal charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, robbery and attempted robbery after a Tucson grand jury indicted him Wednesday in connection with the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Terry, 40, was fatally shot Dec. 14, 2010, when federal agents confronted a band of men several miles from the Mexican border in southern Arizona.
Two weapons found at the crime scene were traced to the U.S. government's controversial Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed straw buyers to purchase weapons and send them across the border. The ATF hoped to follow the weapons to Mexican drug cartels, but lost track of most of them. The subsequent controversy ended Fast and Furious and drove out several ATF executives.
Of the seven men charged in connection with the shootout, according to the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego, two have pleaded guilty, three are awaiting trial and two are fugitives. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California is prosecuting the case in Tucson because the U.S. attorney in Arizona has recused that office from the case. Fast and Furious was run out of the ATF's Phoenix field office.
Burboa-Alvarez has been in federal custody since Oct. 2, 2012, when Border Patrol agents caught him in Phoenix doing surveillance on a target for drug robbers, according to court records from a separate case.
Burboa-Alvarez was in the U.S. illegally, having been convicted in 2008 of trying to sell marijuana. That had resulted in his deportation on April 28, 2009, the court records said.
In a plea bargain, Burboa-Alvarez pleaded guilty a month after his October 2012 arrest to a single felony count of reentering the U.S. after being deported. He was sentenced to more than three years in prison.
He later appealed to have his conviction thrown out on grounds that included a claim of inadequate counsel. A judge rejected that contention.
Burboa-Alvarez was still in custody when the Tucson grand jury handed down its indictment this week. The indictment says he had assembled a crew of men to cross into the U.S. to rob traffickers moving drugs through the Arizona desert.
Burboa-Alvarez was not accused of being with the crew of drug robbers when they got in a gunfight with Terry and three other Border Patrol agents.
It was not immediately clear whether Burboa-Alvarez had an attorney. KOLD-TV in Arizona reported that Burboa-Alvarez pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Terry case in a Thursday arraignment in Tucson.
Terry's family released a statement through the Brian Terry Foundation, an advocacy group set up in his memory.
“While we are grateful another arrest has been made, the fact that the suspect was in our country illegally is a sad, and in this case deadly, reminder that our border is not secure." Terry's uncle, Ralph Terry, said in the statement.
Brian Terry's mother, Josephine Terry, called the indictment a "truly momentous" development, but criticized the Justice Department for not holding the organizers of Fast and Furious more accountable.
Follow @MattDPearce for national news