Mexico Arrests Suspect in Fast and Furious Killing of Brian Terry
MEXICO CITY – Mexican federal police announced Friday that they have arrested a suspect in the killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, the slaying at the center of the scandal over the botched U.S. gun-smuggling probe known as Operation Fast and Furious.
Jesus Leonel Sanchez Meza is one of the five men charged with killing Terry in December 2010 during a shootout in Arizona near the Mexico border. One is on trial in Arizona and the other three remain fugitives. Sanchez was arrested Thursday in Sonora state.
Two guns found at the scene were bought by a member of a gun-smuggling ring that was being monitored in the Fast and Furious investigation. Critics have knocked U.S. federal authorities for allowing informants to walk away from Phoenix-area gun shops with weapons, rather than immediately arresting suspects.
"This is a long-awaited arrest and a great development in the murder investigation of Brian," Robert Heyer, Terry's cousin and chairman of the Brian Terry Foundation, said in statement on behalf of the family.
"To the extent closure can ever be realized this is an important part of the process. However, the key issue of government accountability remains. Why was the operation that killed Brian authorized and who will be held to account? These questions must be answered no matter how high we must look to get them. The family looks forward to the pending Inspector General's report," he said.
In Operation Fast and Furious and at least three earlier probes during the administration of President George W. Bush, agents in Arizona employed a risky tactic called gun-walking -- allowing low-level "straw" buyers in gun-trafficking networks to leave with loads of weapons purchased at gun shops. The goal was to track the guns to major weapons traffickers and drug cartels in order to bring cases against kingpins who had long eluded prosecution under the prevailing strategy of arresting low-level purchasers of guns who were suspected of buying them for others.
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