Mexico: Cartel Goofed When Suspects Killed US Agent

Agents' SUV mistook for vehicle of rival gang
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2011 11:59 AM CST
Mexico Drug War: Cartel Goofed When Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Was Killed, Army Says
In this undated photo released by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday Feb. 16, 2011 is seen ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata.   (AP Photo/ICE)

The Feb. 15 killing of a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was a case of mistaken identity, a suspect told soldiers. Julian Zapata Espinoza and five other suspected members of the Zetas drug gang were captured during an army raid yesterday, and the army says the Zetas gunmen thought the agent’s SUV was actually a rival gang’s vehicle, MSNBC reports. ICE agent Jaime Zapata was shot and killed after the Chevrolet Suburban was forced off the highway; fellow agent Victor Avila was shot twice in the leg and is recovering in the US. The AP notes that authorities say the agents’ vehicle was identified with diplomatic license plates.

In response to the killing, authorities began a sweep of suspected Mexican drug cartel members in the US yesterday that is expected to last until tomorrow. “We are taking a stand and we are sending a message back to the cartels that we will not tolerate the murder of a US agent, or any US official," says a DEA agent. By this morning, agents had arrested more than 100 people and seized more than $4.5 million in cash, almost 20 guns, and a large amount of drugs including 23 pounds of methamphetamine, 107 kilos of cocaine, and 300 pounds of marijuana. (More Immigration and Customs Enforcement stories.)

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