Monday, September 21, 2015



Note:   More light sentences?  In exchange for silence?  
The "failed operation" being "fast & furious" 
and then this:  "attempted interference with commerce by robbery" 

Posted: Sep 18, 2015 11:47 AM MST
Updated: Sep 21, 2015 12:01 PM MST
N4T Investigators: Judge rules to keep Operation Fast and Furious out of Terry murder trial
Written By Michel MarizcoCONNECT  
When a jury gathers next week for the trial of two men charged with the murder of a U.S. federal agent, it will not hear any details of how two guns found at the murder scene were part of a U.S. government-sanctioned weapon program, a federal judge has ruled.

Friday morning, U.S. District Court Judge David Bury agreed with U.S. prosecutors to keep the details of Operation Fast and Furious out of the upcoming trial for the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

Terry was killed in a firefight with a crew of armed Mexican men who were scouting the desert in search of drug smugglers to rob. Two AK-47 variants were found at the crime scene. Those rifles were purchased in a gun-tracking operation overseen by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Operation Fast and Furious. ATF officials had hoped weapons purchased at a Glendale gun store would eventually turn up in the hands of high-level Mexican drug traffickers. Instead, ATF lost track of more than 1,400 guns. The two found at Terry's death were part of the operation, congressional investigators later found.

Ivan Soto Barraza and Jesus Leonel Sanchez Meza were apprehended in Mexico, two years later.

The U.S. asked the judge this summer to keep the details of Fast and Furious out of the murder trial, stating it was irrelevant.

Bury agreed. "I agree with one exception. I can't find any relevance except if the government should open the door," he said.

If the government brings up the origins of the guns found, Bury ruled that defendants can then bring up Fast and Furious.

Bury ordered the defendants "not to refer to ... or elicit any testimony regarding Operation Fast and Furious. Understood?"

Kent Terry, Brian's brother said the judge's decision sickened him.
"This is a ploy to diminish FnF (Fast and Furious) from the American public and to diminish fnf ever existed," he wrote in an email.

Earlier this week, U.S. prosecutors also proposed a series of questions for jurors: "Has anyone been exposed to publicity from any source pertaining to the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry?"

It then stated in its proposal: "Although not relevant to the charges against the defendants in this case, has anyone heard of an operation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms commonly referred to as "Fast and Furious?"

Finally, the United States wrote: "If any jurors answer either or both questions in the affirmative, the United States requests that the court conduct an individual inquiry of that juror outside the presence of the other venire members."


Suspects charged in border agent's slaying to face trial

Posted: Sep 21, 2015 2:49 PM MST
Updated: Sep 21, 2015 2:59 PM MST
By Astrid Galvan, Associated Press
Brian Terry (Source: MGN Online)
Brian Terry (Source: MGN Online)
(Source: MGN Online)
(Source: MGN Online)
Two suspects in the 2010 killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent whose death exposed a botched federal gun sting will be the first to go on trial in the case this week.

Jury selection and opening arguments are set for Tuesday and Wednesday in the case of two men charged in the killing of Brian Terry during the Fast and Furious operation in which federal agents allowed criminals to buy guns with the intention of tracking them. Instead, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lost track of 1,400 of the 2,000 guns involved in the sting operation, including two weapons found at the scene of Terry's killing.

Two suspects have already pleaded guilty, and two others remain fugitives. Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza, also known as Lionel Portillo-Meza, and Ivan Soto-Barraza will be the first to face trial.

Terry's family will be present at the trial next week.

"It's gonna be an emotional time for us, but we're just thankful that we have the opportunity to bring these two defendants to justice and we hope that the government is successful in getting convictions for these two individuals," family spokesman Robert Heyer said.

While the case will provide the first trial for suspects in Terry's death, the judge has excluded any information about the failed operation during the case.

Sanchez-Meza and Soto-Barraza were members of a "rip-off" crew that planned on robbing marijuana smugglers in the Arizona desert when they encountered agents patrolling the area on Dec. 14, 2010. A gunfight between the crew and the agents ensued. Authorities later discovered that two of the guns found at the scene of the murder had been part of Fast and Furious. The operation allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them once they made their way into Mexico.

The operation became a major distraction for the Obama administration as Republicans in Congress conducted a series of inquiries into how the Justice Department allowed such an operation to happen. Former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt after he refused to divulge documents for a congressional investigation into the matter.

Since then, the Justice Department has focused on arresting and trying all suspects involved.

Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, one of the men present but likely not the shooter, has been sentenced in the killing. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced in February 2014 to 30 years in prison.

Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez, accused of assembling the armed crew that was supposed to steal marijuana from smugglers when they encountered Terry and other agents, struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors last month that will likely result in a 30-year prison sentence, with credit for time served. He will be sentenced in October. Two other suspects remain fugitives.

Sanchez-Meza and Soto-Barraza face charges of first-degree and second-degree murder, assault on a federal officer, conspiracy to commit robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. Their attorneys did not return calls seeking comment.

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