TUCSON -- A federal judge sentenced a Mexican man to 30 years in prison Monday for the 2010 killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry, a slaying that led to the unraveling of the failed federal gun-tracking operation known as Fast and Furious.
Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in October 2012 in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, apologized in court for the slaying.
“I regret what happened, sir,” Osorio-Arellanes told the judge in Spanish. “I, too, was hurt. I don’t know what else to say. Please forgive me."
He was part of a group of bandits who engaged in a shootout with Terry and three other Border Patrol agents in southern Arizona, just south of Tucson.
After serving his sentence, Osorio-Arellanes is to be deported and banned from the United States.
Terry’s mother, Josephine, addressed the court, saying that her family had suffered through the worst three years of their lives.
“Brian is my hero,” Josephine Terry said. “Brian was a dedicated American. He would always say this was the best country in the world.”
She added, “I will never hear the words, ‘I love you mom.’ ”
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 traced to the Fast and Furious operation led by the Phoenix field office of the 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 Mexican drug cartels. The intent was to arrest cartel leaders. Most of the firearms vanished, however.
The botched investigation led to an outcry and prompted several federal officials to step down.
In a prepared statement before the sentencing, 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.
Times staff writer Matt Pearce in Los Angeles contributed to this report.