Tom Horne Says Border Agent Shootings Represent ‘Escalating Threat’

Two U.S. federal immigration agents were shot and killed in Mexico this week.

By Julianne Hing Feb 18, 2011

After two Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were shot, one of them killed, along a road near Mexico this week, U.S. officials are scrambling to figure out what happened. Some are using the occasion to call for a more forceful military presence along the border.

Special Agent Jaime Zapata, a native of Brownsville, Texas, and his colleague Special Agent Victor Avila Jr. were headed back to their Mexico City post in a black SUV with diplomatic plates when they were trailed and then shot. Zapata, who was driving, was killed and Avila, survived by ducking down in the passenger seat. The Monitor, which pieced together a timeline of events, reports that authorities suspect drug cartels to be behind the shooting.

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chair of the U.S. House Homeland Security and Investigations Oversight Subcommittee, said earlier this week that he was concerned about the advancing violence on the part of drug cartels in Mexico.

"I think the response needs to be heavy handed by the United States," McCaul said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. "This is an attack on the United States and I think we need to respond in a very forceful way."

This week Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne said the shooting represented "an escalating threat" along the border, adding that ""nothing more important than stopping the invasion at our border," the Arizona Republic reported.

But Mexico’s head of national security committee in the country’s house of representatives, Gustavo Gonzalez Hernandez, said that drug-related violence was not a one-way problem.

"If the U.S. explains to its people that it is a joint problem, that it’s not the Mexicans who invented drugs and brought them to their country," he said, The Monitor reported. "A demand evolved and a structure began that includes production and transportation."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told the AJC that U.S. investigators had gotten involved with Mexican authorities to figure out what happened. "The resources of the federal government are at the disposal of our Mexican partners in the investigation," Carney said, the AJC reported.

Carney said that President Obama had called Zapata’s parents to extend his condolences.