Special Agent Jaime J. Zapata. Photo via ICE.
Special Agent Jaime J. Zapata was killed by Mexican drug cartel gunmen at an illegal drug trafficking checkpoint with another federal agent north of Mexico City.
Zapata and partner Victor Avila, both U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, were traveling between Mexico City and Monterrey when they were stopped by cartel operators near San Luis Potosi. The agents were in a blue Suburban with diplomatic plates and identified themselves as diplomats.
When Zapata rolled down his window, members of the Los Zetas cartel opened fire on them, fatally wounding Agent Zapata and wounding Avila, who is now recovering in the U.S., reports the El Paso Times.
The two agents were on assignment from the ICE office in Laredo, Texas, working out of Mexico City. In Laredo, Agent Zapata had served on the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit as well as the Border Enforcement Security Task Force.
On Wednesday, President Obama called Agent Zapata's parents to offer condolences on the loss of their son. A White House spokesman told Fox News Obama will "work with the Mexican government to bring the assailants to justice."
Agent Zapata had served with ICE for four years and had previously served with the U.S. Border Patrol for four years.
Special Agent Zapata began his federal law enforcement career as a member of the U.S. Border Patrol in Yuma, Ariz. A native of Brownsville, Texas, Special Agent Zapata graduated from the University of Texas at Brownsville in 2005 with a criminal Justice degree.