Man arrested in killing that sparked ‘Fast and Furious’ probe
From Umaro Djau, CNN
(CNN) – Mexican authorities say they arrested a man wanted in the killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, whose death led to the public disclosure of the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling sting.
Leonel Sanchez Jesus Meza was arrested in Puerto Penasco, about 60 miles south of the Arizona border, the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement Friday.
The investigation into Terry’s killing revealed the existence of Operation Fast and Furious, which sought to build arms trafficking cases against drug cartels and smuggling networks.
The “Fast and Furious” fallout led to a congressional investigation that culminated with the U.S. House of Representatives finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
Meza, who was arrested Thursday, is being held with an international extradition request by the United States, the ministry said.
Mexican authorities say he goes by the alias Lionel Portillo-Meza. He is the second person arrested in the case; three others are wanted and believed to be at large in Mexico.
The five were indicted by a federal grand jury in Arizona on a myriad of charges, including first-degree murder, in connection with Terry’s death.
The indictment, handed down last year in a federal court in Arizona, accuses the men of entering the United States illegally from Mexico intent on robbing drug traffickers of marijuana.
Terry was killed during a firefight on December 14, 2010, between Border Patrol agents and the men in rural Rio Rico, Arizona, near the border of Mexico, according to the indictment.
Two guns found at the scene of the firefight were linked to Operation Fast and Furious.
As part of the operation, people acting on behalf of a buyer were allowed to illegally purchase large numbers of weapons in Arizona and transport them to Mexico.
Once the weapons crossed the border, the operation called for the weapons to be traced to the buyers — the cartels and the smuggling networks.
But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lost track of more than 1,000 weapons, including some that were later found at crimes scenes.
CNN’s Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.