Suspect Confesses Zapata Murder Case of Mistaken Identity

BROWNSVILLE–The man behind the murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata confessed he was mistakenly identified as a rival drug member and wasn’t the intended target.

Suspect Julian Zapata Espinoza — known by the nickname “El Piolin,” or Tweety Bird, told Mexican authorities his Zeta Cartel members mistook the vehicle Zapata drove as one for a rival gang member.

Zapata and  his partner were driving  on a federal highway in San Luis Potosi on February 15 when they were forced off the road and shot.

Zapata was hit several and died from his injuries. His partner, Victor Avila, an El Paso resident, survived the attack.

President Felipe Calderon said the Mexican military captured Espinosa and five others Wednesday, a day after Zapata was buried in Brownsville.

“That event occurred because of the characteristics of the vehicle, given that they (the suspects) thought it was being used by members of a rival criminal group,” an army spokesman, Col. Ricardo Trevilla, said.

President Obama spoke to the Mexican President after he made the announcement.

“He thanked him for Mexican efforts to bring to justice the murderers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata, including the arrest today of one of his alleged killers.” President Obama said. “The President said neither the United States nor Mexico could tolerate violence against those who serve and protect our citizens, as Special Agent Zapata did so selflessly through his own life.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also issued a statement.

“I welcome the news that Mexican authorities have apprehended one of the alleged killers of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata,” said DHS Secretary Napolitano.  “We will continue to assist the ongoing Mexican investigation with every resource at our disposal and to ensure that all those responsible for Special Agent Zapata’s murder face justice.”

At the Zapata Family home in Brownsville, armed agents from ICE still protecting the home. The family, which includes a two brothers who work for the Department of Homeland Security, had no comment about the arrest.

–South Texas Tribune, for more stories


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