Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga was sentenced in federal court today to 50 years in prison for the murder of United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on December 14, 2010. Favela-Astorga pleaded guilty to Agent Terry’s murder in April 2022. He is the seventh and final defendant to be convicted and sentenced in this case.
“Today is for Brian Terry, and his loved ones and colleagues who waited eleven years to see justice come to all who were involved in his tragic murder,” said U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman of the Southern District of California. “We hope it fulfills the promise to everyone who protects us. We’ll relentlessly pursue justice against those who do them harm for as long as it takes.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team, the FBI and the U.S. Border Patrol for their relentless quest for justice in this matter.
Favela-Astorga admitted as part of his guilty plea, and evidence presented at two trials in this case in 2015 and 2019 established, that he was one of several armed bandits who had traveled from Mexico to the U.S. to hunt for marijuana smugglers to rob. At the time, Agent Terry and other members of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) were on extended deployment in the desert to apprehend such robbery crews.
On December 14, near midnight, Agent Terry’s team attempted to arrest Favela-Astorga’s crew in a rural area north of Nogales, Arizona. A member of the robbery crew fired at the agents, hitting Agent Terry in the back and severing his spinal cord and aorta. According to evidence presented at the prior trials, Agent Terry called to a fellow agent, “Willie, I’m hit! I can’t feel my legs.” BORTAC agents, still under fire, tried to save Agent Terry but were unsuccessful.
Evidence from the trials established the five bandits at the scene were armed with four AK-47-style assault rifles and an AR-15 assault rifle and had food to last for days.
Favela-Astorga and others fled back to Mexico, leaving behind Manuel Osorio-Arellanes who had been shot in the stomach by agents. Manuel Osorio-Arellanes was convicted and sentenced in 2014 to 30 years in prison after cooperating in identifying other members of the robbery crew who were fugitives.
Mexican authorities arrested Favela-Astorga in October 2017 based on a provisional arrest warrant issued at the request of the United States. He was extradited to the United States in January 2020.
The other members of the robbery crew at the scene were Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, Ivan Soto-Barraza, and Jesus Lionel Sanchez-Meza. All three were arrested in Mexico years after the shooting. Soto-Barraza and Sanchez-Meza were extradited to the United States in 2014, convicted at trial in December 2015, and sentenced to life in prison. Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes was extradited to the United States in 2018, convicted at trial in February 2019, and sentenced to life in prison.
In addition, Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez pleaded guilty to murder and, while not at the firefight, admitted he recruited the crew members in Mexico. Burboa-Alvarez was sentenced to 324 months in prison. Border Patrol agents also had arrested Rito Osorio-Arellanes on immigration charges two days before the shootout, unaware he was part of the robbery crew. Osorio later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and was sentenced to 96 months in prison.
Agent Terry’s murder was principally investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Border Patrol. The U.S. Marshals Service, the Mexican Navy (SEMAR), Mexico’s Office of the Attorney General (PGR), and the Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs, helped with Favela-Astorga’s apprehension and extradition.
“For over the last decade, the FBI and our partners have worked to bring justice to all involved in the killing of agent Brian Terry. We will not and did not waver in our commitment to ensure that those who commit acts of violence against law enforcement officials will be held accountable and punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said Chris Ormerod, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Phoenix Field Office. “We hope today’s final sentence will help bring a degree of comfort to Agent Terry’s family in knowing that all the individuals responsible for his murder have been brought to justice.”
“Today’s sentencing brings justice to the last of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry’s murderers,” said Tucson Sector Chief Patrol Agent John Modlin.
“I thank the many law enforcement professionals who have worked on this case for over a decade and, in particular, acknowledge the dedication and efforts of FBI Special Agent Michelle Terwilliger who has led the investigation since the night of the shooting,” said Grossman.
The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona was recused.