Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Suspect Says ICE Agent Slain in Error

Here is more on the capture of the suspects in the federal agent's execution.

An alleged Zetas drug cartel member arrested in the killing of a U.S. immigration agent told soldiers Wednesday the attack was a mistake, saying gunmen mistook the officer's SUV for a vehicle used by a rival gang, the army said.
A soldier escorts Julian Zapata Espinoza, known as "Piolin", or Tweety Bird, a ring leader of a cell of Los Zetas operating out of southern Nuevo Leon, during a media presentation at Military Zone in Mexico City February 23, 2011. The Mexican army said on Wednesday it had arrested Julian Zapata Espinoza in the roadside killing of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Mexico last week that sparked outrage in the United States. A second ICE agent was wounded in the shooting on a major highway near the central city of San Luis Potosi, north of the capital, in one of the worst attacks on U.S. agents in Mexico in more than a decade and a sign of Mexico's worsening drug war.

The Mexican government said Wednesday it had detained a suspect in the killing of ICE Special Agent Jaime Jorge Zapata and that the suspect told authorities that Zapata’s SUV was attacked because it was mistaken for that of a rival drug organization.

Last week, some U.S. officials maintained the attack was an intentional ambush of the agents and said the gunmen made comments before they fired indicating they knew who their targets were.

Julian Zapata Espinoza, known as “El Piolin,” was detained along with five other suspected members of a local cell of the Zetas organization, a press release from the Mexico Attorney General’s office said.

The release said that Zapata Espinoza was caught Wednesday when the military raided four buildings in San Luis Potosí state used as safe houses by the suspects. It identified Zapata Espinoza as the chief of the Zetas cell in the area.

The Attorney General’s office, known as the PGR, said Zapata Espinoza told soldiers of his role with the Zetas and said that he was the head of a group of gunmen that attacked the vehicle in which Zapata and fellow agent Victor Avila were traveling on Feb. 15. Zapata was killed and Avila was wounded in the attack, which occurred on Highway 57 in the state of San Luis Potosí.

A soldier escorts Julian Zapata Espinoza (3rd L), known as "Piolin", a ring leader of a cell of LosZetas operating out of southern Nuevo Leon, during a media presentation at Military Zone in Mexico City February 23, 2011.

Also detained Wednesday and identified as suspected members of the Zetas were Armando Álvarez Saldaña, Mario Domínguez Realeo o Domingo Díaz Rosas, Jesús Iván Quezada Peña, Martin Bárcenas Tapia and Rubén Darío Venegas, who was said to be from Honduras.

The PGR release also listed three women and one minor as detained but gave no information about them other than their names. The women were identified as Diana Margarita Guerrero Morales, Roxana Mireya Ríos Velázquez and Magali Chaín Castillo López, said to be the wife of Zapata Espinoza.

The news release said Zapata Espinoza told authorities that the vehicle in which the two U.S. agents were riding was similar to one used by a rival drug gang and it was attacked for that reason. Zapata Espinoza also named Jesus Ivan “El Loco” Quezada Pena and Ruben Dario “El Catracho” Venegas as others who participated in the attack, the PGR said.

It would not be the first time that a politically sensitive killing in Mexico was identified as a case of mistaken identity.

In 1993, gunmen linked to the Arellano Felix drug cartel killed Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo at an airport in the western city of Guadalajara. Prosecutors later said the gunmen mistook the cardinal's luxury car for their intended target, drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo Guzman."

Several other recent high-profile cartel killings of people not involved in the drug trade, including the September killing of American tourist David Hartley, have been ascribed by law enforcement officials to cases of mistaken identity.

Soldiers escort Julian Zapata Espinosa, aka 'El Piolin', fourth right, alleged member of the Los Zetas drug carteland main suspect in the killing of U.S. Immigration and Customs, ICE, agent Jaime Zapata, and Jesus Ivan Quezada Pena, left, Mario Dominguez Realeo or Domingo Diaz Rosas, third left, and Honduras' citizen Ruben Dario Venegas during a presentation for the media in Mexico City, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011. Zapata and fellow agent Victor Avila, were attacked Feb. 15 when traveling along a highway in Mexico's San Luis Potosi state. Avila survived the attack.

The release said the Mexican military had had a line on this Zetas group because of information gathered in December following a separate arrest of suspected Zetas.

Wednesday’s raid also resulted in the seizure of six weapons, five vehicles, 41 magazines for ammunition, communications equipment, and various documents, including payroll information and membership lists of the organization.

ICE Director John Morton responded to the news of the arrest with his own statement, saying: “The announcement today by Mexican authorities of an arrest in the shooting of ICE Special Agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila is a welcome development. We are encouraged by this action and appreciate the efforts by Mexico to bring Special Agent Zapata’s killers to justice.”

He added: “It is important to remember that this is an ongoing investigation, and we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners in Mexico and in the United States as it unfolds. We continue to hold the Zapata family in our thoughts and prayers, and look forward to a swift resolution of this case.”

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also issued a statement: "I welcome the news that Mexican authorities have apprehended one of the alleged killers of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata. We will continue to assist the ongoing Mexican investigation with every resource at our disposal and to ensure that all those responsible for Special Agent Zapata’s murder face justice.

“We will also continue our vigorous and coordinated efforts to defeat the criminal organizations operating in Mexico that seek to exploit our shared border. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Agent Zapata’s family, his friends, and his colleagues."

San Luis Potosi is at the center of a power struggle between two rival drug gangs, the Zetas and the Gulf cartel. It is also on the route north used by migrants seeking to reach the United States, and officials say cartels have begun recruiting some migrants to work for the gangs.

Though Mexico is seeing record rates of violence, it is rare for U.S. officials to be attacked. The U.S. government, however, has become increasingly concerned about the safety of its employees in the country.

In March, a U.S. employee of the American consulate in Ciudad Juarez, her husband and a Mexican tied to the consulate were killed when drug gang members fired on their cars after they left a children's party in the city across from El Paso, Texas.

The White House meanwhile announced Wednesday that US President Barack Obama would meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon next week, amid continuing drug violence and tensions over their joint strategy to tackle it. President Barack Obama also released a statement thanking the Mexican president for the arrests.

Records generated by the Mexican government obtained by The Brownsville Herald show that the area where the attack occurred has been the location of numerous incidents related to drug trafficking and criminal organizations, and also of their encounters with Mexican authorities.

There were several military operations on the day the agents were attacked, but the information does not suggest any connection. The time of the operations is not noted in the reports.

Although it is illegal for U.S. law enforcement officials in Mexico to carry weapons, U.S. officials have not commented on any protection the two special agents might have had, or why they would travel in the area seemingly unprotected.

From January to the day after the special agents were attacked, more than 20 operations and confrontations had taken place in the state of San Luis Potosi, according to the Herald’s review of records.

On Tuesday, Morton, who was in Brownsville for the Zapata’s funeral, declined to comment on whether U.S. law enforcement should be allowed to carry weapons in Mexico and whether that was in issue in Zapata’s death.

“A very serious investigation is under way,” he said. “I’m not going to talk about the details, how Mr. Zapata was killed.”

Morton did say that the U.S. and Mexico are working hand in hand.

Washington has vowed the gunmen will face "justice," while Mexican investigators are working with a joint task force of the US Justice Department and Homeland Security to probe the shooting.


“Together with the authorities in Mexico, we are going to make sure that what Jaime was all about is vindicated,” he said. “There will be justice and we are not going to shy away from what we are doing.”

El Piolín had been arrested in 2009

The Mexican Attorney General says that Julian Zapata was arrested by the Army for crimes related to organized crime, but was released on bail

The Attorney General's Office (PGR) confirmed that Julian Zapata Espinoza, El Piolin, a cell leader of "Los Zetas “operating in San Luis Potosi and charged with the murder of ICE American agent Jaime Zapata , was arrested by the army in December of 2009 for crimes related to organized crime.

According to the agency, Zapata Espinoza posted bail since being he was only indicted for misdemeanors charges and was able to secure his freedom, but this year the government ordered his re-arrest, as he did not appears in his criminal trial in San Luis Potosi.

In December 2009, the SEDENA presented to the media seven people in San Luis Potosi who had been arrested in the municipality of Rio Verde for possession of weapons and having uniforms used exclusively by the military.

Among those arrested was Zapata Espinoza, now the leader of a group of thugs of Los Zetas in San Luis Potosi.

Sources:
The Brownville Herald
El Mexicano
Universal
Associated Press
Yahoo News



18 comments:

  1. that line about the u.s. Being outraged is nonsense, what do you expect when you confront cartel killers with plasic badges? The truth comes out about the mexican military having a "line" on these guys since december, how many have they killed from then till now while the authorities let them run amok with impunity?

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  2. "...military raided four buildings in San Luis Potosí state used as safe houses by the suspects." I wonder how long they have known about these "safe houses" and why they weren't raided 2 weeks ago BEFORE the ICE agent was killed.

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  3. probly not even the killers govt thru out some low level z

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  4. Congratulations to the Brownsville Herald for its contributions to this conversation, thrust onto center stage by Agent Zapata's murder.

    Their latest coverage of the narco violence in and around the CDG's cardiac ventricles is a far cry from the full front page obit they allowed in 1991 for the founder and spiritual leader of what would become CDG: Juan N. Guerra.

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  5. lol I have a bridge i want to sell you.

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  6. You people are so Ignorant
    Most of these guys have been under surveilance for a while.
    you dont go all rambo without building a case first,
    hell even U.S. cops know that

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  7. Puro Pinche Tacuache,

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  8. as i said before kick doors down ask questions later

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  9. They kill a guy on Falcon,kill a missionary, kill US citizen kids in Juarez, NOTHING then a US beaurocat attack and action city. The problem for me as a US citizen is no law enforcement person or govt employee is any more important than a non govt citizen. The Isrealis will hunt you down if one of its citizens is murdered,it would be comforting for our country to fully respect us as citizens.

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  10. lol @ build a case... for what so they can break out or buy their way out? lol idiot.

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  11. Alright...alright...alright, we've got 80-90 spent assault rifle & hand gun casings left at the scene, and have seized "six weapons" from the supposed responsible party. Let's get Quantico, Virginia on the line and put these rifles and handguns through some ballistics tests and see which one of these rifles/handguns fired the shots through the crack in the window. No positive test on any of the seized weapons you've got the wrong guys.

    Not saying they're innocent folks or anything but we're (the U.S.A) looking for the individuals that killed one of our Agents and critically wounded another, not just some random Z's causing terror in and around S.L.P.

    If these guys don't have the trigger weapon IT WAS NOT THEM, lat time I checked the Z's are not exactly the brightest group of people around, they're not going to go and "Hide the Evidence", or "Get Rid of the Murder Weapon", they guard and protect those rifles and all firearms in general, with their lives, simply put there's no way any of the Z's are going to throw away one of their prized Cuerno De' Chivo's, no way.

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  12. @8:03 am

    I couldn't have said it better myself! My family and I are US citizens and were assaulted in Mexico late last summer and NO ONE could help us out! It's like everyone just turned the other way- worst part about it is that the police station at the Mexican border advised us to "leave it alone if we don't want more trouble". I am deeply sympathetic to Agent Zapata's case, but why does it take for a Gov't official to be killed for the US to actually give two shits??

    My prayers go to the families of ALL the victims affected by this horrible drug war.

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  13. With all sincerety what do you guys exepct the US Govt. to do? They have sicarios everywhere, it is difficult to know exactly who committed the crime against you. I just want Mexico to execute these guys on contact!! No more prisoners or trials, execute all of them! Zetas, Chapos, CDG, CDS, Familia Michoacana, CDJ, CAF, etc. etc. execute all...

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  14. immediate and public executions would surely help..even vigalante justice would be better than letting then letting these losers live...and how is it they are being "watched" but can still set up road blocks and aSsassinate at will? If this wasnt sooks that got killed and some innocent mexican family all we would have got was a headline and pics of the aftremath and no one would have done ANYTHING to bring justice to the citizens of mexico...what's really going on? It looks to me like these cells are being allowed to operate until politics get involved and then they go right to there front door and arrest them. Something stinks about that..MEXICO GIVE YOUR PEOPLE REAL PROTECTION AND JUSTICE YOU TWO FACED MONSTER, QUIT LETTING YOUR PEOPLE GET SLAUGHTERED WHILE YOU WATCH AND PRETEND TO BE DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!

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  15. The difference between a civilian and an LEO being assaulted or killed is that in this case Agent Zapata was on duty. People who travel to other countries for pleasure should realize that their US rights seize in foreign land.

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  16. Just yesterday BB said that Jesus "El Mamito"was
    picked up on the ICE murder and that he was involved w/out a doubt,now it's some guy called
    "Tweety Bird" next their gonna tell us that it was a suicide and not a murder at all. Where do
    you guys get your information. Are you sure Mr.
    Calderon didn't do it? Let's face it in Mexico
    in the last 5 years there are more cops killing
    people than the bad guys. And that part about a
    mistaken identity; everyone said that the ICE guys identified themselves as US Agents loud and
    clear and I'm sure they would have gladly given
    their "Armered SUV" up in a NY minute before they would have taken a bullet for a Govt car!

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  17. Puras 'nches mentiras. Agarran a cualquier ignorante y sin familia y le pegan el muertito, le dicen lo que tiene que decir o lo golpean hasta que se "acuerde" que el fue...nothing but lies and scapegoats, the ones really responsible are the ones running both the USA and Mexico, but they are so high up they will never get "caught" so they pin it on those with the least of resources.

    FALSEDADESSSS!!!!

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  18. You really think that the agents yelling that they worked for ICE or any other government agency would have changed the outcome of this? You actually think that they wouldnt have shot them? You think these people give a dam if you are an ICE agent or a 55 year old women?

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