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Suspect in border agent death held until trial

June 27, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A federal magistrate has ordered that a man be jailed until his trial on charges that he was involved in the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent whose death exposed the botched federal gun sting known as Operation Fast and Furious.

The magistrate on Thursday ruled that there was a serious risk that Lionel Portillo-Meza would flee from authorities.

Portillo-Meza is one of five men charged in the December 2010 death of Agent Brian Terry near the Arizona border city of Nogales.

Authorities say Terry was killed when armed robbers targeting marijuana smugglers opened fire on a group of agents. The death brought to light the federal government’s botched gun smuggling investigation, in which they planned to track guns sold to criminals who were buying them for weapon smugglers.

Instead, agents lost track of 1,400 of the 2,000 guns involved in the investigation, including two rifles found at the scene of Terry’s killing.

Portillo-Meza is only the second suspect to face justice in the United States.

Another man was sentenced earlier this year to 30 years in Terry’s death.

Two other men remain fugitives, while another man who is in Mexican custody awaits extradition.

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