US & Canada

Suspect in border guard killing extradited to US

This undated photo provided by US Customs and Border Protection shows US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry Image copyright AP
Image caption Border agent Brian Terry was patrolling in Arizona, when he and his team stumbled across the gang members

A second suspect wanted in the death of a US border official has been extradited to the US, in a case linked to a botched gun-running sting.

Lionel Portillo-Meza pleaded not guilty in the death of Brian Terry in an Arizona court on Wednesday.

Weapons found at the scene of his death were linked to a US anti-gun-running scheme called Fast and Furious.

Under the programme, the US allowed criminals to purchase guns in order to trace them to major arms traffickers.

But US agents lost track of 1,400 of the firearms, including the ones believed to have killed Terry.

A US justice department report has cited 14 people for possible disciplinary action for their roles in the programme.

Mr Portillo-Meza was arrested in Mexico in 2012. He was flown to the US on Tuesday.

He has been charged with murder, as well as assault and other charges.

"This development brings us one step closer to achieving justice for a beloved agent who paid the highest price in protecting this country," said US Attorney for Southern California Laura Duffy.

"While there is nothing that can be done to bring Agent Terry home again, we hope this news will bring some level of comfort."

Another man, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in February for the 2010 murder, which occurred as Osorio-Arellanes and his gang engaged in a firefight with US border agents in rural Arizona.

The US justice department announced a $1m (£589,000) reward in 2012 for information leading to the arrest of Mr Portillo-Meza, and three others.

Two of the men remain fugitives, while the third is waiting in Mexican custody for extradition.

Robert Heyer, Terry's cousin and the family's spokesman, said they were "thankful that Mexican authorities have continued to work with us".

"The family has gotten really good at not having high expectations and knowing that things are going to take lots of time," Mr Heyer said.

"They have become very patient over the last three-plus years. So we don't celebrate many things."

Mr Portillo-Meza pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and other charges.

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