FBI agents flew to Mexico City last night to take custody of one of the fugitive defendants in Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder: Lionel Portillo-Meza, also known as “Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza.” Sanchez-Mesa was arrested in Mexico on Sept. 6, 2012 and has been awaiting extradition ever since. Last night, he was flown from Mexico City to Houston and then to Tucson, Arizona.
According to court records, Sanchez-Mesa was one of five “rip crew” members together when they illegally crossed the border from Mexico into Arizona in Dec. 14, 2010 and got in a shootout with Terry and his fellow Border Patrol agents. Rip crews are dangerous bands of illegal criminals from Mexico who cross into the U.S. where they prey on other illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S. Two rifles used in the Terry murder had been secretly trafficked by suspects that federal agents under the Justice Department from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms intentionally let “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels in Operation Fast and Furious.
Terry’s cousin Robert Heyer, who heads the Brian Terry Foundation, provided this accounting of other suspects related to the case:
Manuel Osorio-Arellanes has been sentenced to 30 years. Manuel’s brother Rito Osorio-Arellanes was a member of the criminal rip crew but was in U.S. custody at the time of Brian’s murder and was later sentenced to 8 years in prison for conspiracy to commit robbery.
Ivan Soto-Barraza has been in custody in Mexico awaiting extradition since 2013.
Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga and Heraclio “Laco” Osorio-Arellanes are still on the loose in Mexico. Each has a $250,000 reward on them for information leading to their arrest and conviction.