The people accused of killing U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry were deported from the United States three times in the year before the shooting happened Dec. 14, says an indictment unsealed Friday.
Defendants in the case were deported in February, June and October 2010, the indictment says.
Only one defendant's identity was unsealed Friday: Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, a 34-year-old from El Fuerte in northern Sinaloa, the only suspect arrested at the scene. He was deported in June last year before returning with a group of people who exchanged gunfire with four Border Patrol agents west of Rio Rico, the indictment says.
Osorio-Arellanes is the first person charged with killing, though he is charged with second degree murder and is not accused of firing the fatal shot.
Two days after the shootout, on Dec. 16, Osorio-Arellanes agreed to talk to FBI agents without an attorney present. He was traveling with four others that night, all of whom were armed, Osorio-Arellanes told investigators, an FBI search warrant affidavit says.
"Osorio-Arellanes stated that he had raised his weapon towards the Border Patrol agents, but he did not fire because he realized that they were Border Patrol agents," the FBI search warrant says. "At this time, he was shot."
Osorio-Arellanes is not the only person charged in the indictment, but the names of his alleged co-conspirators remain sealed, federal prosecutors said. The suspected shooter is still at large.
The FBI investigation remains open, and officials are still searching for the others, said Robbie Sherwood, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona.
Osorio-Arellanes is also charged with conspiracy to assault a federal officer; use and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence; possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and re-entry after deportation. Co-defendants whose names remain sealed were deported Feb. 25 and Oct. 19, the indictment says.
Terry, 40, of Michigan, was a member of a specially trained tactical unit known as Bortac. On the night of the shooting, Terry and his crew were targeting a "rip crew" that robbed and assaulted drug runners and illegal immigrants, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said.
Terry and fellow Border Patrol agents shot beanbags at the group first before the men returned fire, killing Terry with a single gunshot, an FBI search warrant affidavit shows. Alan Bersin, Customs and Border Protection commissioner, said the agents' initial use of the beanbags was not mandated by agency policy, which allows agents to determine whether to use deadly or non-deadly force based on the threat.
Four men were arrested that night in the area of the shooting but three of them were cleared of any connection to the shooting and deported to Mexico in February on illegal re-entry charges. Osorio-Arellanes, who was wounded in the gunfight, is the only remaining person in custody. Prior to these new charges, Osorio-Arellanes was only charged with illegal re-entry after deportation.
Osorio-Arellanes had previously been arrested by the Border Patrol on June 8, 2010 near Nogales, federal court records show. He also has a criminal record in Maricopa County, court records show. In 2006, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. In 2003, he pleaded guilty to resisting arrest.
Two firearms were recovered at the scene that are believed to belong to the suspects, the documents say. Osorio-Arellanes is accused of having one of the rifles and 25 rounds of ammunition.
Officials also recovered five backpacks, three gloves, two sweat shirts, a pullover, a jacket, a knit hat, a baseball cap and a razor. They took hair from Osorio-Arellanes to compare to any hairs found on the clothing items, the search warrant said.
Terry, 40, was the 10th agent to die on duty in the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector since 1926 and the first agent shot to death in the Sector since Alexander Kirpnick was killed in1998. Terry was buried in his hometown near Detroit on Dec. 22, and hundreds attended his memorial service January in Tucson.
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.