26 January 2012

US and Mexico team up over US immigration officer’s murder

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An American federal judge has allowed Mexico to join American officials in the prosecution of a Mexican drug cartel boss accused of killing an American immigration official.

American immigration

ICE Agent Jaime Zapata was gunned down by a Mexican drug cartel in February 2011.

Julian Zapata Espinoza, nicknamed 'El Piolín' or 'Tweety Bird', will be tried for the murder of US immigration officer Jamie Zapata (no relation) in February 2011.

Mr Zapata, 32, was a member of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and was shot to death on an assignment in San Luis Potosi in northern Mexico, his partner, Victor Avila, was shot twice in the legs but survived the attack.

The murder was one of the most high profile killings in US law enforcement history and sparked a huge investigation and discussions between US President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Zapata Espinoza was arrested alongside five other members of Los Zetas, one of the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico, although he is expected to stand trial alone.

Originally held without bail, he appeared in court recently and was informed that he would be prosecuted by both the Mexican and American authorities for the murder of Agent Zapata and the attempted murder of Agent Avila.

The case has received national global attention as the assailants were allegedly aware that their victims were US diplomats and the guns used in the attack had been bought in the US.

The Mexican drug trade is one of the bloodiest in the world with estimations of almost 50,000 drug related deaths since 2006.


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