02/17/11— On Tuesday, February 15, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) agent was killed, while another was wounded, by firing gunmen when they were driving through Northern Mexico. The agent killed, Jaime Zapata, was the first immigration agent to be killed in Mexico. Victor Avila, the passenger, was released from the hospital on Wednesday after being treated for wounds to his legs. The shooting happened in the mid-afternoon in San Luis Potosi and occurred when the two ICE agents stopped at what appeared to be a military checkpoint. After the two agents stopped, an unknown source started to open fire on them. The area of San Luis Potosi has become increasingly violent over the past few months, related to the violence from cartels within Mexico City and Monterrey. Janet Napolitano, the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary said “any violence against our ICE personnel, or any DHS personnel, is an attack against all those who serve our nation and put their lives at risk for our safety.”
Recent news suggests that the ICE agents were attacked purposefully by Mexican gunmen. The question now is whether or not the ICE agents were killed because of their work. There is information that proves that there is at least one organized crime group that has expressed interest in killing American officers, or the violence could have been due to the want for the S.U.V. that the two officers were driving , which a lot of drug gangs have come to favor. However, both Mexican and American officials have denied stating a reason why the two ICE agents were attacked, as they are still investigating the case. The vehicle driven had diplomatic plates on it and Representative Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, said that as soon as the two men identified themselves as American diplomats, the gunmen opened fire on them. Both Mexican and American officials have created a strong relationship with one another and the Immigration and Customs Agency is expanding within Mexico and taking a stronger approach to help train the Mexican police and to investigate smuggling cases.