By Brad Poole
TUCSON, Ariz., Oct 20 (Reuters) - A federal judge has sentenced a Mexican man to 27 years in prison for his role in the killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in a 2010 shootout with a gang that had crossed the border illegally to rob drug smugglers.
Rosario Burboa-Alvarez pleaded guilty in August to first-degree murder in the slaying, in which weapons left at the scene were traced to the U.S. government's failed "Fast and Furious" gun-running investigation. He was sentenced on Monday.
Burboa-Alvarez admitted hiring six men to enter the United States to retrieve hidden weapons from a cache near the border, then rob marijuana smugglers, according to court documents. Instead, they ended up in a gunbattle with U.S. border agents.
"Agent Terry's murder was a tragically foreseeable consequence of Defendant's recruitment of a 'rip crew' to engage in armed robberies," prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum.
After the robberies, the men were to deliver the drugs to a contact in Arizona, then return to Mexico, where Burboa-Alvarez was to pay them, court documents said.
But late on Dec. 14, 2010, the five robbers came face to face with Terry's group of elite BORSTAR border agents and exchanged fire. Terry was killed, and the fleeing robbers left behind weapons, two of which were traced to the Fast and Furious probe.
In that investigation, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives attempted to trace weapons that were bought legally in the United States and then sold into the black market. Agents lost track of some weapons, which eventually got into the hands of Burboa-Alvarez's crew.
One robber, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, was shot during the gunbattle and later pleaded guilty to murder. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
In October, a jury found Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza and Ivan Soto-Barraza guilty of numerous charges, including first- and second-degree murder, assault and conspiracy. Their sentencing is set for December.
The remaining two defendants, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, remain at large and are believed to be in Mexico, according to court documents. (Reporting by Brad Poole; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)
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