Jaime Zapata’s mother: ‘I owe my son justice’

The parents of slain ICE Special Agent Jaime J. Zapata, and twin sister of injured Special Agent Victor Avila today called for transparency as they continue in their quest for answers regarding the Feb. 15, 2011 attack on their loved ones in Mexico.

“I feel that I owe my son justice,” Zapata’s mother Mary M. Zapata said at a press conference Friday morning.

Zapata, of Brownsville, was killed and Avila, of El Paso, was injured during a shooting in what officials say was an attack by the Zetas drug cartel as the two agents were returning to Mexico City after meeting in San Luis Potosi with staff assigned to Monterrey.

Zapata and Avila reportedly were picking up equipment.

Since the attack, the family has been seeking answers as to how this could have happened, and why the agents were sent to travel on a road known to be dangerous.

Avila’s sister, Magdalena A. Villalobos, an attorney with the Rad Law Firm in Fort Worth, said that the search for answers continues.

“It’s not over. In fact, it is just the beginning.”

Villalobos said that her brother continues in recovery, still in physical and emotional pain.

“It’s an incredibly difficult thing,” she said, but, “he is a survivor.”

The families are represented by attorneys are Benigno “Trey” Martinez of Martinez, Barrera & Martinez of Brownsville; Raymond L. Thomas of Kittleman, Thomas & Gonzales of McAllen; and Villalobos.

Both families have filed claims against the government and several federal agencies, noting that other agents had expressed concern the trip would unnecessarily risk the lives of the two young agents, and that the equipment that they were transporting could easily have been shipped through the diplomatic courier service assigned to the embassy.

Furthermore, when the agents were ambushed in the armored vehicle they were using, the doors unlocked unexpectedly because of a flaw, giving the attackers easy access to the agents, according to the claims.

The notices maintain that a Texas-based operation similar to Operation Fast and Furious is responsible for allowing the weapons that killed Zapata and injured Avila to get into the hands of known killers.

Under Operation Fast and Furious, ATF allegedly monitored criminals trafficking arms within the United States and allowed guns to “walk” into Mexico. The aim was to identify major weapons smugglers and drug cartel operatives.

The government and federal agencies have six months to respond to the claims.

For more on this story, read Saturday’s Brownsville Herald.


Original story: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/articles/parents-141955-son-jaime.html