(Reuters) - A man accused of pulling the trigger in the 2010 killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona was convicted of murder on Tuesday in a case tied to an ill-fated U.S. government gun-running sting known as “Fast and Furious”.
A U.S. federal jury found Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes guilty of murdering agent Brian Terry, 40, during a firefight on Dec. 14, 2010, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
Osorio-Arellanes was the sixth of seven defendants convicted in connection with the killing in a rural area north of Nogales.
He was part of a “rip crew” looking to rob smugglers transporting drugs from Mexico into the United States. The group confronted Terry and three other Border Patrol agents in a shootout.
Osorio-Arellanes was convicted of nine counts, including first degree murder and attempted robbery. He will be sentenced on April 29.
Terry was shot to death and one gang member was wounded in the gun battle. The rip crew were carrying four loaded AK-47 assault weapons, an AR-15 semiautomatic assault weapon and 180 rounds of ammunition, according to the Justice Department.
Two AK-47 rifles found at the scene were later traced back to the bungled gun-running investigation of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that embarrassed the administration of former President Barack Obama and strained relations with Mexico.
In that investigation, the ATF aimed to trace weapons bought legally in the United States by “straw” buyers and then resold into the black market, but federal agents lost track of some weapons, many of which ended up in the hands of drug traffickers.
Four other members of the rip crew involved in the lethal gunfight, and a fifth man charged with conspiracy, were ultimately convicted in U.S. federal court and sent to prison.
A further defendant is pending extradition to the United States and will be tried in Tucson, Arizona, the Justice Department said.
Reporting By Andrew Hay; Editing by Robert Birsel