Thursday, June 21, 2012

$62.5 Million Claim Filed In U.S. Against ATF, ICE And FBI For ICE HSI Special Agent Zapata's Death In Mexico

Jaime J. Zapata

A wrongful death claim filed states, three U.S. law enforcement agencies were negligent, failed to follow policies and procedures resulting in ICE HSI Special Agent Zapata's death in Mexico.

By H. Nelson Goodson
June 21, 2012

Brownsville - On Wednesday, the parents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent Jaime J. Zapata, 32, of Brownsville and ICE HSI Special Agent Victor Avila of El Paso filed wrongful death notices of claim totalling $62.5 million against three federal law enforcement agencies in the death of Zapata and injuries sustained by Avila on February 15, 2011 in Mexico. Both Zapata and Avila, the driver were travelling to Monterrey to pick up some equipment on an amored SUV when they were intercepted and attacked by members of the Zeta Cartel. The door locks of the SUV malfunctioned and automatically opened allowing the Zetas to get access into the vehicle killing Zapata and injuring Avila. The agents were not armed.
The lawsuit claims, government supervisors for the ICE agents required them to travel to Monterrey, Mexico to pick up equipment, despite the danger it posed for U.S. agents. The weapon used to killed Zapata was apparently bought by a strawbuyer (someone who buys a weapon for someone else) in Texas and then it was allowed to be illegally transported into Mexico under U.S. surveillance. The feds were following the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico to monitor who got the weapons. The weapon used to kill Zapata was lost in Mexico and ended up in possession of the Zetas.
The claim holds the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation negligent resulting in wrongdoing for violating their own policies and procedures.
Zapata's parents, Mary M. Zapata and Amador Zapata Jr. and the estate of Jaime J. Zapata are claiming a combined $50 million and Avila is claiming $12.5 million, according to the wrongfull death claim filed in federal court.
Feds charged Julian Zapata Espinoza, aka"El Piolin," a Mexican national in connection with Zapata's homicide. Espinoza was extradited from Mexico in December 20, 2011.
On April 19, a federal grand jury returned a four count felony indictment against Espinoza. Espinoza was charged with one count of murder of an officer or employee of the United States, for the homicide of ICE HSI Special Agent Zapata and one count of attempted murder of ICE HSI Special Agent Avila and one count of using, carrying brandishing and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.
A successful and legal U.S. prosecution of Espinoza is still in the process, since Zapata's murder occurred in Mexico.

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