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October 1, 2015

Two Men Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent

WASHINGTON—Today, a federal jury in Tucson, Arizona, found Ivan Soto-Barraza, 37, and Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza, 27, guilty of first-degree murder and other offenses for the murder of United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, announced U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy for the Southern District of California.

According to evidence presented at trial, during the evening of Dec. 14, 2010, Soto-Barraza, Sanchez-Meza and three other men were in the United States for the purpose of robbing drug traffickers of their contraband. While Agent Terry and three other Border Patrol Agents were engaged in the performance of their official duties, members of the defendants’ group exchanged gun fire with the agents and one of the shots fired by a member of the defendants’ group killed Agent Terry.

The jury found both Soto-Barraza and Sanchez-Meza guilty of first-degree murder, second degree murder, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery, using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence and assault on Agent Terry and three additional federal officers—Border Patrol Agents William Castano, Gabriel Fragoza, and Timothy Keller. The court scheduled the defendants’ sentencing hearing for Dec. 9, 2015. Both defendants face a mandatory sentence of life on the first degree murder charge (count 1).

“With these convictions, we have taken another important step towards securing justice for Agent Brian Terry,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Today’s verdict is the result of years of tireless effort from dozens of dedicated law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and investigators committed to ensuring that the murder of their friend and colleague does not go unpunished. The Department of Justice will continue to relentlessly pursue the remaining individuals responsible for Agent Terry’s loss, and to uphold the values of courage, duty, and honor that he embodied with his life and service.”

“Agent Terry gave his life protecting our country. Today’s verdict cannot undo that tragedy and loss, but brings another measure of justice to Agent Terry’s family and the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Duffy. “I commend the prosecution team, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Border Patrol and all other law enforcement partners who have assisted in the investigation and prosecution.”

Two other men, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes and Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez, previously pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for their roles in Agent Terry’s death. Yet another two men, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga and Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, remain fugitives.

At trial, the United States was represented by attorneys from the Southern District of California, Special Attorneys Todd W. Robinson and David Leshner. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is recused. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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