Monday, February 28, 2011

Mexico nabs 2 more suspects in US agent slaying

Written by OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ   
Monday, 28 February 2011 05:13
Soldiers escort Julian Zapata Espinosa, aka
MEXICO CITY (AP) 2/27/2011 10:03 PM

Mexican authorities on Sunday arrested two alleged members of the Zetas drug cartel they say are linked to the killing of a U.S. immigration agent, including a boss of the man suspected of carrying out the attack.
Mexican marines arrested Sergio Mora, an alleged regional leader of the Zetas, in the northern city of Saltillo, along with five other suspects, the navy said in a brief statement.

Mora is boss of Julian Zapata Espinoza, who was arrested Wednesday and is accused of fatally shooting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata and wounding fellow agent Victor Avila in the Feb. 15 attack, the navy said. The statement gave no other details.

Also Sunday, Mexican federal agents arrested Luis Rojo, known as "Red Bear," an alleged member of the Zetas also linked to the killing of the ICE agent, the Safety Department said in a statement.

Federal police arrested Rojo, 27, in the northern state of San Luis Potosi, where the attack on the agents took place on a highway linking Mexico City to the northern city of Monterrey.

Rojo has links to Jesus Rejon, a lieutenant in the Zetas drug cartel who has also been mentioned as a suspect, the department said.

Neither official statement specified how the suspects were involved in the attack on the U.S. agents, other than saying that Mora is a gang chief who gave orders to Zapata Espinoza and that Rojo was suspected of handling the cartel's finances in the region.

Federal agents and soldiers raided seven homes in the state of San Luis Potosi and four in the border city of Nuevo Laredo as part of the investigation into the attack against Zapata and Avila, the department said.
Zapata and Avila, who worked at the U.S. Embassy, were attacked as they returned to Mexico City from a meeting with other U.S. personnel in the city of San Luis Potosi, capital of the state by the same name.
San Luis Potosi is at the center of a power struggle between the Zetas and the Gulf cartel. It is also on the route north used by migrants seeking to reach the United States. Officials say cartels have begun recruiting some migrants to work for the gangs.

Following the attack, some U.S. officials maintained it was an intentional ambush of the agents and said the gunmen made comments before they fired indicating they knew who their targets were.

The two agents were in a Chevrolet Suburban. Mexico's drug cartels frequently set up roadblocks and ambushes to steal large SUVs and pickups.

When soldiers arrested Zapata Espinoza — known by the nickname "El Piolin," or Tweety Bird, apparently because of his short stature — he allegedly told authorities that he and a group of gunmen from the Zetas mistook the ICE agents' SUV for one used by a rival gang. Along with Zapata Espinoza, soldiers arrested another Mexican man and a Honduran man who allegedly took part in the attack.

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