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Two Zetas Cartel Members Sentenced to life for murder of ICE agent Jaime Zapata

November 9, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Two Zetas Cartel Members Sentenced to life for murder of ICE agent Jaime Zapata

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After being found guilty in July, Mexican drug cartel associates Jose Emanuel Garcia Sota and Jesus Ivan Quezada Piña were sentenced to double life terms behind bars on Monday for the slaying of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata and the attempted killing of ICE Agent Victor Avila.

“HSI Special Agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila were in Mexico to protect our country when they were ambushed by criminals, who will now spend the rest of their lives in prison,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco announced in a statement. “This case serves as a reminder, that if you harm a U.S. agent, the government will pursue you to ensure that you are brought to justice.”

In 2011, Jaime Zapata and Avila were carrying out an assignment in Mexico when they were attacked by members of the Los Zetas cartel while traveling on a highway heading back to the U.S. The members opened fire the ICE vehicle, murdering Zapata and severely injuring Avila.

Emmanuel García Sota, and Jesus Ivan Quezada Piña were sentenced to life in prison for the slaying of the federal agent

“Special Agents Zapata and Avila dedicated themselves to federal law enforcement,” U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu stated. “While working on behalf of our country, they were gunned down in a carjacking attempt by members of squads for the Los Zetas cartel. We have never forgotten what happened to these two heroes in that ambush on a Mexican highway more than six years ago. The sentencings reflect our determination to protect U.S. officials abroad and bring to justice those who do them harm.”

Seven Mexican natives have been charged in connection with the Zapata/Avila case. The rest of the suspects are scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday, The Brownsville Herald reports.

“The sentences should serve as a powerful message to cartels and other criminal organizations that there is no escape from justice and that we will not rest until they have been held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan stated.

He added: “We remain grateful to the government of Mexico, the Department of Justice, and our partners in sending these murderers to prison. ICE will not forget the bravery and sacrifice set by Special Agent Zapata as we eradicate these networks across the globe.”

Two Mexican nationals were sentenced today to two terms of life in prison for the murder of Jaime Zapata

An inspectors general report released in March indicated that the Zeta members who murdered Zapata were armed by the Obama administration after the ATF neglected to arrest identified straw purchasers working to smuggle guns from Texas to cartels in Mexico.

“I began asking questions about the operations of the ATF and its gun-walking operations more than six years ago. Congress is in litigation regarding Fast and Furious to understand the extent of what happened and how the Obama administration attempted to avoid congressional oversight, and four and a half years after my request for an investigation we’re learning from the Inspector General about another botched operation,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said, referring to the report.

“Sadly, the information provided by whistleblowers appears to be proven true. ATF did fail to seize illegal firearms that turned up at a crime scene in Mexico, trafficked by the suspects who had previously sold two firearms used in the February 2011, attack on Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Mexico,” he added. “The circumstances look familiar and seem to be a pattern of recklessness that failed to recognize the consequences of allowing firearms to get in the hands of the cartels.”

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