Mexican federal police announced Friday that they have arrested a suspect in the killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, the slaying at the center of the scandal over the botched U.S. gun-smuggling probe known as Operation Fast and Furious.
Jesus Leonel Sanchez Meza is one of the five men charged with killing Terry in December 2010 during a shootout in Arizona near the Mexico border. One is on trial in Arizona and the other three remain fugitives. Sanchez was arrested Thursday in Sonora state.
Two guns found at the scene were bought by a member of a gun-smuggling ring that was being monitored in the Fast and Furious investigation. Critics have knocked U.S. federal authorities for allowing informants to walk away from Phoenix-area gun shops with weapons, rather than immediately arresting suspects.
In Operation Fast and Furious and at least three earlier probes during the administration of President George W. Bush, agents in Arizona employed a risky tactic called gun-walking — allowing low-level "straw" buyers in gun-trafficking networks to leave with loads of weapons purchased at gun shops. The goal was to track the guns to major weapons traffickers and drug cartels in order to bring cases against kingpins who had long eluded prosecution under the prevailing strategy of arresting low-level purchasers of guns who were suspected of buying them for others.
During Operation Fast and Furious, many of the weapons weren't tracked and wound up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S., including the Terry shooting.