Gunmen Knew They Were Killing a U.S. AgentFeb 18th, 2011 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime
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THE BORDER REPORT
This is a story I produced for KJZZ, public radio, Arizona. Note, law enforcement sources I spoke with say police recovered more than 80 shellcasings at the crime scene.
New details have emerged in the attack of two US immigration agents working in Mexico. People familiar with the case say the agents identified themselves to the gunmen. But that didn’t stop the shooters from opening fire and killing one of the men.
The two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had stopped for lunch Tuesday and they were driving south on a busy highway between Monterrey and Mexico City. What happened next was confirmed by DEA agents who reviewed the reports. A vehicle believed to be driven by members of the Zeta cartel passed the American’s armored SUV. Another, crowded the agents from behind and forced them to a stop.
Jaime Zapata, the agent who died in the attack, put the SUV in Park. That unlocked the doors. The attackers opened his door. He managed to close it again. Then one of the agents lowered the window.
Texas Republican Representative Michael McCaul was debriefed by senior ICE officials.
“The ICE agents said we’re Americans, we’re diplomats. And the response from the Zetas was to open fire on the agents,” he said.
Federal law enforcement officials have warned about threats against agents working in Mexico for years, but the belief has persisted that American agents were hands off. Diplomatic security consultant Ron Williams says the agents were properly trained.
“People make mistakes. People are human” Williams said. And they probably didn’t think that these guys would in fact open up and try and kill them.”
Williams says rolling down the windows and trying to reason with the attackers were the agent’s biggest mistakes.