Last week, President Biden signed into law the Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act, named after two Special Agents who were targeted by the Los Zetas cartel in Mexico, with Zapata murdered and Avila seriously injured.
But neither Avila nor Zapata’s family was invited to the ceremony, according to The Texan.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), states that it:
explicitly grants extraterritorial jurisdiction over the following criminal offenses:
- killing (or attempting to kill) a federal officer or employee
- assaulting, kidnapping, or murdering (or threatening to do so, or attempting to kidnap or murder) a family member of certain federal officials to retaliate against or to impede, intimidate, or interfere with the federal official
- threatening to assault, kidnap, or murder certain federal officials to retaliate against or to impede, intimidate, or interfere with the federal official and
- assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees.
Avila said of being excluded from the signing ceremony, “The Zapata family and I are disappointed and hurt that the Biden administration did not invite us to be part of the signing ceremony of this very important law.”
The Texan delineated what happened to the two agents:
On February 11, 2011, officials in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), sent Special Agents Victor Avila and Jaime Zapata on an assignment to retrieve equipment from Mexico City. While they were on the road, the Los Zetas cartel attacked them in their armored vehicle, murdered Zapata, and seriously injured Avila.
The U.S. Department of Justice reported on July 27, 2017, “A federal jury found two Mexican nationals guilty today of murder of a federal officer, attempted murder of a federal officer, and related offenses in the killing of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila on Feb. 15, 2011, in Mexico.”
But in January 2020, the federal appeals court for the D.C. Circuit overturned the convictions for murder and attempted murder for Jose Emanuel “Zafado” Garcia Sota and Jesus Ivan “Loco” Quezada Pina.
Fox News reported in February 2020:
Garcia Sota, 39, and Quezada Pina, 32, are serving life sentences in prison on those two counts. They are also serving life on a third count they asked the court to overturn — use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence causing death. The court rejected their appeal on that count. The two men were also sentenced to 20 years in prison on the fourth count, which criminalizes the killing of certain persons protected under international law. They did not challenge that conviction.
Avila told The Texan, “The Zapata family and I were devastated when we learned that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had vacated the murder conviction. I contacted my Senator, Congressman and FLEOA (Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association) almost two years ago to try to make this right.”
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