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Tuesday
Feb222011

ICE HSI Special Agent Zapata Mourned 

Hundreds of mourners crammed into an event center Tuesday for the funeral of a federal agent killed in northern Mexico during what U.S. officials say was a roadside ambush carried out by drug cartel gunmen.

Law enforcement and border security personnel in uniform were among those solemnly gathered to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata who was run off the road and gunned down in San Luis Potosi state Feb. 15. Another agent in the car, Victor Avila, was shot twice in the leg but survived the attack.

Mourners filled the Brownsville Events Center on Tuesday, filling all the seats, lining the walls two deep, standing in aisles and even spilling outside. An honor guard stood beside Zapata’s flag-draped casket, which was flanked by another American flag and a Homeland Security flag.

Bishop Daniel Flores was the first to speak, using imagery to describe the “evil” Zapata, 32,had been fighting.

“He knew that if the good do not fight for what is good the enemy is aggressive and will take our children,” Flores said.

Zapata and Avila were attacked when a group of Zeta drug cartel members in two vehicles forced Zapata’s sport utility vehicle off a highway, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul has said.

San Luis Potosi borders two northern Mexican states where the Zetas and the rival Gulf Cartel have waged bloody battles over territory. Zapata and Avila were temporarily detailed to the ICE attache office in Mexico City and were driving from the northern city of Monterrey to the Mexican capital at the time of the attack.

U.S. law enforcement agencies continue to work closely with Mexican authorities who are investigating the shooting to ensure the perpetrators of this unconscionable crime are captured as quickly as possible. The full resources of the Department of Homeland Security are at the disposal of Mexico in this investigation.

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