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Rip-crew recruiter sentenced to 27 years in Brian Terry murder

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Rip-crew recruiter sentenced to 27 years in Brian Terry murder

  • Slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry
    CBPSlain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

The recruiter who put together the rip-crew responsible for the 2010 murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was sentenced on Monday to 27 years in prison. 

In August, Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez, 31, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for his role in the shooting death of Terry, who was killed during a nighttime firefight in rugged terrain north of Nogales on Dec. 14, 2010, when he and three other Border Patrol agents encountered five men operating as a "rip crew"—a group who allegedly robbed drug smugglers.

Under the plea agreement, Burboa-Alvarez, nicknamed "El Pariente," was given credit for time served since his arrest Oct. 2, 2012. The agreement waived eight other counts lodged against him, including second-degree murder, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, and assault on a federal officer. 

During the sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge David C. Bury at the federal courthouse in Tucson, Burboa-Alvarez fainted and collapsed to the floor.

Burboa-Alvarez admitted that he recruited the members of the rip-crew in Mexico, who then entered the United States on foot and used caches of weapons and supplies hidden in the desert to intimidate smugglers into giving up their loads of marijuana. The group would then hand over the marijuana to other co-conspirators and sell the drugs for a profit. 

Burboa-Alvarez was the seventh man to be indicted for the conspiracy that led to the shooting, along with Rito Osorio-Arellanes, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and sentenced to eight years in prison in 2013.  

His brother, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, was part of the group that fired on the four Border Patrol agents, and was wounded in the firefight. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2014. 

Two other men, Ivan Soto-Barraza and Lionel Portillo-Meza, were both found guilty by a federal jury on Oct. 1. 

However, alleged rip-crew members Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga remain at large in Mexico. A $250,000 reward was been offered for the arrest of each.

After the murder of Terry, an investigation showed that one of two AK-47-patterned rifles used by the rip-crew was connected to a Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives operation designed to track the sale of guns bought by straw purchasers in Phoenix-area gun stores and smuggled into Mexico. 

However, the agency lost track of at least 2,000 of these weapons, including the one used to kill Terry. Ultimately, the agency recovered around 700 of the weapons. 

The operation, dubbed "Fast and Furious," became the focus of a congressional investigation that ultimately led to a contempt hearing for former Attorney General Eric Holder. 

Fallout from the case forced U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke to resign, and the U.S. Attorney's Office of Arizona had to recuse itself from the case. 

Burboa-Alvarez's attorney asked that his client be placed in a facility in Southern California so he could be near his family. 

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