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Man extradited to U.S. from Mexico over slaying of border patrol agent

(Reuters) - A Mexican man has been extradited to the United States in connection with the fatal shooting of a U.S. border patrol agent during a late-night gun battle near the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona four years ago, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.

Ivan Soto-Barraza has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of U.S. border patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.

The case drew international attention when two AK-47s found at the scene of the shooting were traced back to the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-trafficking investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Soto-Barraza is the sixth person to be charged in the case. Two have pleaded guilty, two are awaiting trial, and two more remain on the loose, the Department of Justice said.

One of the men who has already pleaded guilty to the shooting, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, said the group was in the United States to rob drug smugglers and illegal immigrants when the gunfight erupted.

"This marks another step forward in our aggressive pursuit of those responsible for the murder of Agent Brian Terry, who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country," said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.

The "Fast and Furious" sting operation ran from late 2009 to early 2011 out of the Phoenix offices of the ATF and the U.S. Attorney, and allowed weapons to slip across the border to Mexico.

The goal was to track guns bought by straw buyers with clean records, or people who purchased firearms pretending they were for their own use, which were then sent to senior drug cartel members. However, in most cases ATF agents did not follow the guns beyond the initial buyer.

Soto-Barraza, who was captured in Mexico last year, is set to be arraigned on first degree and second degree murder charges as well as various other weapons and assault counts in a federal Arizona court on Friday, the statement said.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in New York; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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