BROWNSVILLE–A fallen ICE agent from Brownsville was remembered as a dedicated law enforcement committed to fighting the drug cartels in Mexico and federal leaders vowed to find his killers.
Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and ICE Director John Morton spoke at his funeral of Jaime Zapata, 32, at the Brownsville Events Center where more than a thousand people attended.
All three leaders praised Zapata and his family, but at the same time promised his death wouldn’t be forgotten and they are determined to find the people responsible.
Zapata died when authorities said he was ambushed on a federal highway near San Luis Potosi by the Zeta Cartels. They believe they followed him and his partner, Victor Avila, who survived the attack.
“Jaime Zapata died fighting for what was right,” said Morton. “Fighting to protect not only the people of this country but also the people of Mexico from drug traffickers and organized criminals.”
Secretary Napolitano said they are working with Mexican officials to catch the gunmen.
“We will not relent or flinch or let up in any way in our determination to see that those responsible for his death will be held responsible for their crimes,” said Secretary Napolitano.
Holder is working on a joint task force looking into Zapata’s death. He had some tough words too.
“We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our international partners and Mexican counterparts,” Holder said. “We must and will eradicate this scourge that took his life.”
Morton gave a fiery speech and was animated about finding justice for the Zapata family.
“Together, the United States and Mexico will bring the long, hard arm of the law down on Jaime and Victor’s shooters,” Morton said. “Together we will look after our people. Together we will continue to see that Jaime and Victor’s work is done and that the rule of law triumphs over lawlessness and empty violence.”
Leaders also commented about Zapata and the kind of agent he was working for ICE the last five years. They also mentioned how his brother works for ICE, a second brother works for Customs and Border Protection and his father came from law enforcement.
“Now I say ICE is fortunate, and not was fortunate, because Jaime is and always will be very much alive at ICE.” Morton said. “His approach to life is our approach: belief in the mission; in our country; in making a difference; in right always, always triumphing over wrong.”
Zapata leaves behind his mother, father, four brothers and a fiancée.
“Your son, your brother, your fiancé was an exceptional man, and you should take enormous pride in his work and the way he lived his life,” said Morton. “He was a credit to our agency and someone we will honor for a very, very long time.”
–South Texas Tribune, firstname.lastname@example.org
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