Suspect in 'Fast & Furious' slaying of border agent extradited to U.S

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A suspected drug cartel figure accused of killing U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in a case tied to the government's ill-fated "Fast and Furious" gun-running sting was extradited from Mexico to Arizona to face murder charges, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Lionel Portillo-Meza pleaded not guilty during a federal court arraignment on Wednesday in Tucson, Arizona, and was ordered detained without bond, the prosecutors said.

He is accused of being one of five cartel gunmen who confronted Terry and three other Border Patrol agents on Dec. 14, 2010, in a shootout that left Terry dead in a rural area north of Nogales, Arizona.

Two weapons discovered at the murder scene were later tied to the bungled gun-running operation of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that embarrassed the Obama administration and strained relations with Mexico.

The U.S. Justice Department offered a $1 million reward in July 2012 for information leading to the arrest of Portillo-Meza and three other fugitives accused of the shooting at the time.

Portillo-Meza was captured in Mexico two months later and a second suspect was arrested the following year. Two others remain at large. A fifth suspected gunman pleaded guilty in the United States to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison last February.

A sixth defendant who was in custody at the time of Terry's slaying pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in connection with the case and was sentenced to eight years in prison in January 2013, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Marty Graham; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney)