Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, February 18, 2011

83 Bullet Casings Recovered After Attack on ICE Agents

The Monitor
Jared Taylor

The two federal agents were headed south along the four-lane highway, back to their post in Mexico City.

Special Agent Jaime Zapata was behind the wheel of an armored Chevrolet Suburban with U.S. diplomatic plates. His partner, Special Agent Victor Avila Jr. was in the passenger seat.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had met with fellow agents, who were based in Monterrey, along Mexico Highway 57 in the central state of San Luis Potosi to drop off equipment from the U.S. Embassy.

Zapata and Avila stopped at a Subway along the highway for lunch. As they left the restaurant, an SUV closed in on their Suburban from behind, tailing the agents.

Zapata tried to speed up, but the SUV kept pace and pulled up side-by-side. The passengers flashed assault rifles at the agents and sped ahead down the highway, out of sight.

A second vehicle came from behind, tailing the agents until they met the first SUV they’d seen minutes before.

The two vehicles had boxed in the agents on the highway and crawled to a stop. Gunmen surrounded the agents’ Suburban.

“They were screaming ‘Get out! Get out! Get out!,” one U.S. law enforcement official, briefed but unauthorized to speak on the case, told The Monitor.

That official and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, who chairs the U.S. House Homeland Security and Investigations Oversight Subcommittee, told The Monitor of what investigators have surmised from the attack on the agents Tuesday afternoon.

The agents showed their U.S. diplomatic papers to the gunmen, showing they were federal agents. But the gunmen refused to relent.

Zapata shifted the vehicle in park, which automatically unlocked its doors. The gunmen tried to pull the agents from the vehicle. But they managed to close the doors.

Zapata’s window was open a crack, allowing the gunmen to stick an AK-47 assault rifle and a pistol through the opening. They “shot indiscriminately,” the official said, striking Zapata several times in the abdomen and Avila twice in the leg.

Mexican investigators recovered 83 bullet casings along the highway after the attack on the agents, McCaul said.

“That shows what a massive assault of these agents this was,” he said.

Still alert, Zapata put the Suburban in gear, managed to maneuver around the gunmen and hit the gas pedal. Minutes later, he slumped behind the wheel and the SUV slowed until it veered off the road into an embankment.

The gunmen followed and fired several shots at the passenger side of the armored vehicle. The bulletproof glass stood up to the rounds from the assault rifle.

Avila ducked in the passenger seat as Zapata was moments away from death. Apparently frustrated, the gunmen fled and Mexican police officers responded to the scene.

As investigators have believed since the hours after Zapata’s slaying, members of the Zetas drug cartel are likely behind the attack.

But whether any law enforcement — U.S. or Mexican — actually can track down those responsible seems unlikely, the official said.

“They will never catch these guys,” the official said of Zapata’s killers. “Their (Zeta) bosses are going to catch them and kill them, leave their heads on the side of the road with a note saying, 'Sorry, we killed these guys.' And that will be it.”

Tuesday’s attack prompted the U.S. State Department to urge Americans from unnecessary travel to San Luis Potosi state. The warning issued Thursday evening urged caution to U.S. citizens living in north central Mexico to maintain extra caution while the Mexican government investigates the attack.

McCaul contends the fatal attack has changed the rules for U.S. officials operating in Mexico, he said.

“They’re changing the rules of the game in terms of going after our guys down there,” McCaul said in a telephone interview Thursday.

McCaul is one of several U.S. lawmakers who has taken a critical tenor in the days after Zapata’s slaying.

Zapata’s murder was the first slaying of a U.S. law enforcement agent since 1985, when Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kike” Camarena was kidnapped, tortured and murdered.

The ensuing investigation from U.S. authorities pushed Mexican drug smugglers to not target American authorities operating south of the Rio Grande.

Whether the attack on the agents actually was a targeted hit remains unclear, McCaul said.

“For 25 years, there’s been a sort of operational understanding that this doesn’t happen,” he said. “They’ll go after Mexican police and other cartel members, but not U.S. law enforcement.”

But one Mexican lawmaker pointed to the U.S. demand for drugs as a contributing factor in the murder of Zapata and the approximately 35,000 others slain in drug violence since 2006.

Mexican representative Gustavo Gonzalez Hernandez, who heads the national security committee in the country’s house of representatives, said U.S. aid in fighting the drug war should focus on reducing consumption and not by fighting the war on Mexican soil.

“If the U.S. explains to its people that it is a joint problem, that it’s not the Mexicans who invented drugs and brought them to their country,” he said. “A demand evolved and a structure began that includes production and transportation.”

McCaul said the United States should consider a policy similar to Plan Colombia, which sent billions in aid directed toward eradicating that country’s drug trafficking organizations. First conceived in 1999, the program aimed to enhance social programs and train local police and soldiers.

“There’s a war going on down there and now American citizens and U.S. law enforcement are the victims of that war,” he said. “They’re not getting better, they’re getting worse and I’m very concerned about Mexico becoming some kind of failed state.”

But the Mexican people would not support a similar policy as the United States did with Colombia, said Gonzalez, who represents Jalisco state.

“That would not (work),” Gonzalez said. “It would be an invasion of Mexican sovereignty and independent of the feeling of anger that Americans may have, (any action) cannot be outside the context of Mexican law and only what is allowed under the constitution.”

Funeral arrangements for Zapata remained pending Thursday evening.

The 32-year-old Brownsville native’s remains were at the Dover Air Force Base for an autopsy, said a government source unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter. His remains were diverted to the Delaware base after a medical examiner in Houston refused to perform the exam, saying state law prohibits autopsies on remains recovered outside the United States, the Houston Chronicle reported. When Zapata’s remains would be flown to Brownsville was unclear.

Zapata’s family remained secluded in their Brownsville home on Thursday.


  1. I for one, have always believed, since the beginning of the drug war, America is at fault! The U.S. should focus on reducing consumption, educating it's people on what their demand for drugs is doing to Mexico!...

    America's Drug Habit Funds Terrorism & Terrorists Video

  2. But what if the US stops buying drugs, what would the cartels resort to to make money? mabey if US stops buying drugs then the cartels will do kidnaping and extorsion ten times more!

    We need to legalize ALL drugs in US and in Mexico, this way the cartels would form ligitimate corporations whos operations would be transparent and they could be held accounable for theit acctions in court. And as we all know if it were leagal (drugs) it would be harder to buy, just like tabacco and alcohol is hard to buy if you are underage. But if you are underage it is super easy to buy weed, coke whatever. We need to legalize everything and just get over it and accept that there is no winning the drug war

  3. It's ok with me. My kids are grown and don't use drugs. I don't give a shit about your kids. So let'er rip. Legalize all of it. While you're at it legalize extortion and kidnapping 'cause that's what the gangsters are going to do. They're not going to give up easy, big money and they will protect their territory. As long as there is impunity in Mexico murder will be widespread and indiscriminate.

  4. Why on earth would anyone, private or government, spend that much money up-armoring an SUV and not disable the mechanism that automatically unlocks then vehicle when it is put into park.

  5. 'It's ok with me. My kids are grown and don't use drugs. I don't give a shit about your kids. So let'er rip. Legalize all of it.'

    I'm much more worried about your National Security State will all the cops, soldiers, guns, uniforms, jailers, et al flowing around us in this society than if my kid was to get her hands on some narcotic cough syrup or a joint, Anonymous 1:35 PM. You want us to continue fomenting drug wars all over the place while spending hundreds of billions of $$$ doing that, while people have no retirement, no medical care, no secure housing, etc. I'm much more worried for my kid about her being hit by a speeding cop car chasing somebody, or somebody's gun their kid is playing with going of and blowing a hole in her, or some gung ho drug warrior planting crap on her and her then being jailed, as I am about her using meth or crack cocaine.... the boogie drugs you're holding up to scare us all with.

    Personally, I'm sick of your ever growing cancerous US Police State that so many suck off the teat from. We grow ever more insecure by the day.

  6. @1:35pm
    So when one of his kids gets hooked on expensive illegal meth(and or any other heavy duty substance) and kills one of your (grown up)kids for a few dollers, thats ok then?
    Instead of haveing a safe legal place to have the hit and not have to go and steal or commit violance to obtain the vast amounts of cash a serious addiction needs in the illegal market.
    So....let'er rip eh?
    If idiocy was illegal....well lets just say you would be doing some hard time buddy....and a lot of it.

  7. I have a question for the american goverment?
    would you allow mexican federal agents working in your country like you do in mexico?

  8. As long as this is the predominant belief of the Mexican people, I think we should do nothing inside Mexico. Neither help nor harm:

    "But the Mexican people would not support a similar policy as the United States did with Colombia, said Gonzalez, who represents Jalisco state.

    “That would not (work),” Gonzalez said. “It would be an invasion of Mexican sovereignty and (any action) cannot be outside the context of Mexican law and only what is allowed under the constitution.”

    Mexico can take a vote or make a political decision. It's up to them. Then we pull back and reinforce our own borders including sea and air.

    We're afraid of American corporations going under in Mexico. We may have to cut our losses, get our people out who want to leave, and let them go at it.

    We can use the money we save here to try and stem drug use and more importantly save our economy. Make border security so tight that it will be very difficult to get through. Fight air trafficking on our own turf. The price of drugs will skyrocket. Average joe's won't be able to afford them.

    If Mexico fails, if fails. There will probably be some type of military coup--either government or the leftist Zapatistas groups.

    America has got to stop worrying about everybody's else's problems. Let the Middle East take care of itself, too. If UN, US or any other government aid is not wanted in these countries we need to get out. And we need to stop giving them money.

    We need to stop printing worthless US dollars. Soon enough all that pile of money will be worthless to the cartels. It's almost worthless to us anyway.

    What are we going to do about oil and gas to fuel our economy? It's already going to skyrocket anyway. Expect gas at $7 per gallon and grocery prices to go up by at least 1/3--soon!

    We may have to walk or ride a bike everywhere. Live with candles like they did 120 years ago.
    No TV's, X-boxes, Wii's, etc. So what. It's the price we pay for drug wars and terrorism in our century.

    Then maybe we'll invent some new ways to live and deal with one another.

    Or we can all just sit home and smoke pot, snort cocaine, and inject heroin. While we wait for the terrorists to kill us.

  9. Legalizing Drugs is not the answer!

    We know the cartels won't go away even if we do legalize drugs, they would still operate in other illicit activities, but it would greatly reduce their profits, thus making them more of a local issue than a international dilemma...

    Who do you think would take over operations for the drug cartels? Big US corporations who already steal from the American people anyway!... For example Walmart, they practicality already have a store in every American city, with a pharmacy in it, that would make it easier for Americans to get high.

    FYI: the CEO of Walmart earns about as much in two weeks as an average Walmart employee does in a lifetime(Reich 2008:113).

    Forget about DUI's and welcome grandmas driving on the road blind and high!...

    for the guy who said "it's ok with me. My kids are grown and don't use drugs" so would it be ok if the blind and high grandma would crash into you while driving blind and high..

    and yes! kids would still be able to get drugs just like they do alcohol and tobacco today...

    So Legalizing drugs is not the answer, EDUCATING our citizens about the dangers on drugs is...

  10. The reality is that in the US it's very easy and inexpensive to buy all sorts of illegal drugs right now even though they are illegal. If the US drug war was successful, then drug prices would be through the roof by 1985. It's 2011 and marijuana and hard drugs are as cheap and easy to find as ever. Just go to any local US high school. I don't care if you live in California, Vermont or rural Wisconsin, you'll find the wares. It's all available right now easily, whether you're a 16 year old kid or a 45 year old airline pilot.
    Why are people deluding themselves about this?
    Legalizing all hard drugs and focusing on drug rehabilitacion practices and technology would be far more effective.
    Plus, there's nothing I'd like better than watching the DTOs and their sicarious revert back to washing windows and selling dulces at the stoplights throughout Mexico.

  11. "So Legalizing drugs is not the answer, EDUCATING our citizens about the dangers on drugs is..."

    I disagee. Your approach is Nancy Reagan all over again. Legalization and education go hand in hand.

    There are about 6 million regular (past month) hard drug users (coke, crack) in the US (2008). There are 26 million regular marijuana users in the US.
    There are 165 million regular alcohol users in the US (slightly less than half the entire population).

    Why are we legalizing a dangerous drug like alcohol but spending US$20 billion on weapons, fighter jets with IR cameras and Apache helicopters to ward off hard drugs? There are already at least 7 million people using hard drugs. That's 2% of the entire US population bro.

  12. Ernie, Life is a game. It's like playing CHESS. One King. One Queen, 2 Rooks, 2 Knights, 2 bishops. 8 pawns. The game that's getting played in mexico is similiar to the game of chess. YOU have the Government, The Cartels, The Banking, and the ranks amongs all the top leaders, and last the pawns. (paid killers). The game starts with weaker players taken out first, and continue on until no-ones left, except the King and Queen. The pawns are responsible for doing the dirty work, and keeping the king and queen safe and rich......Here in the U.S. The players are different. You have the President, The Republicans and Democrats, Bankings--, Federal Reserve, Stockmarket, and the little people are left. The ones that pay and pay taxes. The agenda of the game on both sides Mexico and U.S., take the wealth from everyone. In Mexico, burning, blackmailing, drug trafficing, extortion. In the U.S. Pass stupid laws to steal any wealth we have through taxing, health care, manipulating the markets, Government using tax dollars to bail out the very same crooks that have us in the circumstance we have here in the U.S. The difference here in the U.S., is that, it's done legal, and no blood shed. cause we all all decent folk here, you know.!!!

  13. Since none of the previous posters have bothered to do it, I'll post this on behalf of them... I'm sure they were thinking, right?...

    Rest in peace, Agent Zapata. Godspeed.

  14. We need to deploy Predator Drones in Mexico. The wide open lawless highways make them perfectly suitable. Have ground reconnaissance and strike those convoys hard. Make the narcos scared to travel in packs.

  15. Why dont you shut up with the predator drones thing you idiot! Evertime intelligent people here on borderland beat have a discussion the only thing your peanut sized brain can add is "send the drones".Who do you think your fooling? Whats worse is someone in u.s government is paying you to sit on your fat lazy unintelligent duff and lobby for the war machine industry..quit using this forum for your own if we cant remember every discussion you repeat your sales pitch mantra..

  16. This is the biggest peice of trash, propaganda I have ever seen..look at the facts stupidos, first, YOU CANT ROLL DOWN WINDOWS IN AN ARMORED CAR (Even a crack)! Second, they were chased and then pinned in by two vehicles with men holding ak-47s, and he rolls down the window? Are you stupid enough to belive that? Third, ARMORED CARS DO NOT AUTOMATICALLY UNLOCK WHEN PUT INTO PARK! They are designed to keep you safe at all times..and to the u.s elite, quit planting fake stories to justify your reason for going into mexico full scale, just admit that chapo and the boys are making to much money and you want to take over the empire, you used this same type of propaganda to justify going into iraq (as if we don't remember) to take over their oil..but it's to much for this new take over to be paid for by you, so you start this proganda b.s so the u.s taxpayers can pick up the tab....oh, I almost forgot 83 bullets from point blank and only four hit the cia moles? Lol..we dont believe your lies...

  17. To the ignorant individual 8:21 off course you can roll down the window in a private armored car, they rolled down the window to flash their badge and identify themselves as US agents, the piece of shit zeta stuck his rifle inside the window and unloaded striking both agents. This has not been disclosed by the State Department because it is against procedure, and I imagine they do not want to tarnish their fallen agents in any way. Even on level 7 protection you can roll down windows.

  18. The u.s will never allow drugs to become legal,that would only take away from the obscene profits they want, and then they would have to stop siphoning off billions in taxpayer money for " the war on drugs" and that they don't want...

  19. Armored cars are rated up to level 10, this means the glass is over 64 mm thick, thats over eight peices of glass pancaked together. They dont make them to roll down with that level of the internet yourself and you'll see..and you cconveniently avoided the other facts spook..

  20. I agree with 7:51 the whole story stinks and doesn't make sense and makes these 2 agents look like stupid assholes

  21. Huh...Armored glass is minimum 140mm at level 8...i should know, i've worked at Texas Armoring. One glass we made for the Humvee was 7,5 inches...withstands 50bmg.

    I agree with those who says that US should leave Mexico the hell alone, cut ALL aid, cut everything and let them have their will, cut everything in 24 hours and well see how long it takes for them to accuse us for being "racist" and come crying for cash. Cut that cesspool completely and secure the border, mine it, drone it and send the marines and let them roam freely and shoot everything that passes the border at the US side. Then we'll see how long it takes before Mehicco burns to the ground completely in a civil war.

    Same with Middleast and africa, cut all aid and let them deal with their own, and next time a terrorist attack happens on US soil - bring out the nukes and be done with it in 72 hours at most instead of this hippiecrap "hearts and minds" and political correctness.

    And you who says that Iraqs oil ways taken by a fucking clue, US companies got 0, thats right, ZERO oil contracts from Iraq. ALL contracts went to Asia and a couple of others...moron.

  22. Now the uneducated mental midgets come to defend the lies behind this story..if you really worked at texas armory you would know they dont make anything to stop 50 caliber round...they say so right in their questions and answers home page dummy...
    As far as 64 mm that was a typo, should have been 164mm. As for Iraq you dont need a contract when you own the oil stupid, of course their is no contracts to u.s companies, we took it from saddam and are selling it to FOREIGN COMPANYS, you dont make a profit if you sell it back to yourself just proved my point you government mole..

  23. What you will find even MORE surprising is that the option to disable this feature is simple and accessible to all customers who have a late model Chevy Suburban. It takes 20 seconds and you can opt between factory default (which unlocks all doors including tail gate), driver's door ONLY or deactivate this feature which FORCES one to take the extra second and energy to MANUALLY press the AUTOMATIC DOOR UNLOCK BUTTON at either of the two front doors. Many Suburban customers are UNAWARE of these Personal Preference settings because their salesperson did NOT take the time to demonstrate. I myself, have been doing this for MY customers at delivery since this whole safety issue started at the border. I'm in Laredo and I would ask if they drove into Mexico and recommend that they minimally set the driver's door ONLY to avoid some thug entering the REAR passenger side door, placing a gun or knife to your head or neck and forcing one to drive off along with the vehicle. This was SPECIALLY suggested of women drivers who, after placing the Suburban in park and having ALL the doors unlock, usually take the time to check their make up or grab their purse feeling erroneously SAFE inside their SUV.

  24. Harbinger of common senseJune 15, 2011 at 4:22 AM

    I love listening to mexicans make every argument blaming the usa for everything. The entire political system theyre is corrupt. The cops are corrupt. If it wasn't for the aid the USA gives mexico the country would still be 200 years in the past, not one advancement has come from the Mexican population in recorded history. I would argue that the people who built the temples and pyramids down theyre were more civilized and advanced than the current population. The mexican people have no respect for american soil....thats rite...American soil fought for and won. I love the hypocritical stance the government has on illegal immigration. Do you think I could just walk over the border and steal a job from theyre citizens....Oh no, but tis ok for them to come here and steal jobs from AMERICAN citizens. The females come here pregnant....I wonder why? they can collect benefits. Dont blame American consumption of drugs on the drug problem in your country. This argument is further proof of the stupidity out is like someone taking a knife and stabbing someone ....only to blame the company that made the knife. Maybe if the corrupt grubby politicians used some of the money we give them to secure theyre side of the border and reign in the drug cartels ....we might not have the situation we have. Before anyone points a finger at America....remember this....we give you billions...WE...Give ..You. You give us nothing....except job and tax stealing meat suits. If you dont get control of your side of the border, the American people will rise up and go after employers who hire illegals. Jobs will dry up and your thieving illegal job stealers will be forced to go home. If that happens....all the AMERICAN MONEY that is stolen from us and sent over to you...will dry up. Anchor babies will no longer receive citizenship status. In other words we tolerate you. Not much longer if you keep pretending to shake our hand...while holding a knife in the other. You have been warned....American charity goes only so far.


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