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Mexican national to be sentenced for killing border agent Brian Terry

Mexican national to be sentenced for killing border agent Brian Terry
U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry. Terry was fatally shot north of the Arizona-Mexico border while trying to catch bandits who target illegal immigrants. The Mexican national convicted of killing Terry is to be sentenced Monday. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows / Associated Press)

TUCSON -- A federal judge could sentence a Mexican national Monday to up to 30 years to life in prison for the 2010 killing of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry just south of Tucson, a slaying that led to the unraveling of the failed federal gun-tracking operation known as Fast and Furious.

Manuel Osorio-Arellanes pled guilty in October 2012 to first-degree murder. He was part of a group of bandits who engaged in a shootout with Terry and three other Border Patrol agents in southern Arizona.

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Terry's mother, Josephine Terry, is expected to testify before the court, a family spokesperson said in a prepared statement. Terry's sisters, brother and chairman of the Brian Terry Foundation are also expected to show at the sentencing.

In a prepared statement, Terry's sister Kelly Terry-Willis stressed the importance of border security before consideration of any immigration overhaul.

"I understand the need for compassion, but first we must address this dire public safety issue so that the men and women of the Border Patrol who worked with my brother will not unnecessarily be in harm's way," she said.

Terry was a member of the U.S. Border Patrol's elite tactical unit that had been working the area for several nights, a few miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

While the desert bandits scattered toward Mexico, Osorio-Arellanes was shot in the torso and unable to run. Agents discovered a live round in the chamber of the rifle he was carrying and 24 more in the magazine.

Two of the weapons recovered from the shooting scene were later traced to the Fast and Furious operation led by the Phoenix office of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The operation allowed weapons to be illegally sold in the United States so they could later be tracked across the border to Mexico to drug cartels there. The intent was to arrest cartel leaders, but most of the firearms disappeared.

The botched investigation led to an outcry and has had political implications, including the stepping down of federal leaders linked to Fast and Furious.

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cindy.carcamo@latimes.com

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