- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
U.S.-Mexico force probes ambush of ICE agents
Stopped at what looked like checkpoint
U.S. law enforcement agencies are working closely with Mexican authorities in the investigation of Tuesday afternoon’s shooting of two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, one of whom was killed in the ambush by unknown assailants on a highway 230 miles north of Mexico City.
Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was detailed to ICE’s attache office at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City from his post in Laredo, Texas, was mortally wounded during the daylight attack, which occurred in the northern state of San Luis Potosi on Mexico’s major highway between Mexico City and Monterrey.
During the 2:30 p.m. attack near the town of Santa Maria Del Rio, a second ICE special agent, Victor Avila, also assigned to the attache office in Mexico City, was shot twice in the leg. He later was transported to the U.S. and is in stable condition.
According to U.S. and Mexican authorities, the two agents were northbound on the four-lane federal toll highway in a blue Chevrolet Suburban with diplomatic plates when they stopped at what appeared to be a military checkpoint. It was then that the unknown assailants opened fire.
No motive for the shooting has been established, although it is known that Mexican drug smugglers covet the type of truck the agents were driving and have attacked and killed others to steal them. Violence has been commonplace in Mexico since a raging war between drug-smuggling cartels began in 2006, claiming 35,000 lives.
Mexican military officers said they had no checkpoints in the area. San Luis Potosi police said the agents’ bullet-ridden Suburban was found off to the side of the highway. Law enforcement authorities said at least 10 assailants were involved in the shooting, some of whom were armed with high-powered weapons.
The Mexican government does not authorize U.S. law enforcement personnel to carry weapons.
White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said President Obama telephoned Agent Zapata’s parents on Wednesday to express his condolences, telling them their son served the United States admirably and his country was grateful for his selfless service.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. established an FBI-led task force on Wednesday to use the investigative capabilities of Homeland Security and Justice agencies to work with Mexico in tracking down the assailants.
“This joint task force reflects our commitment to bring the investigatory and prosecutorial power of the U.S. government to bear as we work with the Mexican government to bring these criminals to justice,” Ms. Napolitano said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the ICE agents’ families and loved ones, as we are reminded of the risks and sacrifices undertaken every day by the men and women on the front lines in protecting the safety and security of the American people.”
Mr. Holder said the shooting provided “a sad reminder of the dangers American law enforcement officers face every day.
“Working with our Mexican counterparts, we have already launched an aggressive investigation, and this joint task force will ensure that every available resource is used to bring the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice,” he said.
During a meeting, Ms. Napolitano and Mr. Holder underscored the government’s commitment to work with Mexican law enforcement in investigating the shooting and reiterated their commitment to broader support for Mexico’s efforts to combat violence within its borders.
Ms. Napolitano also said she had spoken with Mexican Interior Minister Fernando Blake Mora, telling him that violence against Homeland Security personnel in Mexico “represents an attack against all those who serve our nation and put their lives at risk for our safety, and will not be tolerated by either country.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jerry Seper is the investigative editor for The Washington Times.
- With bombs away, drug traffickers and illegal immigrants make their play
- Medical-device company exec admits to bilking shareholders of $400M
- Justice Dept: Florida's disabled children unnecessarily put in nursing facilities
- Man gets 11 years in Philadelphia mob crackdown
- Eric Holder asks for respect from protesters of George Zimmerman verdict
Latest Blog Entries
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
Crystal Wright is a black conservative woman living in Washington, D.C.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow