Mexican Army: Suspect says ICE Agent Shot in 'Error'

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) - A Mexican army spokesman says a suspect in the killing of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent told soldiers the attack was carried out by a group of Zetas drug gang gunmen who mistook the agent's SUV for a vehicle used by a rival gang.

Julian Zapata Espinoza is known by the nickname "El Piolin," or Tweety Bird, apparently because of his short stature. He was captured along with five other suspected Zetas members during an army raid Wednesday on gang safe houses in the northern Mexican city of San Luis Potosi. That's near where ICE agent Jaime Zapata was shot to death and fellow agent Victor Avila was wounded Feb. 15.

Army Col. Ricardo Trevilla says the shooting happened because the ICE agents' SUV resembled a description the gunman had for a vehicle being used by members of a rival gang.

The two ICE agents were traveling in a Chevrolet Suburban. Mexico's drug cartels have frequently set up roadblocks and ambushes to steal large SUVs and pickups, vehicles they like to use.

Trevilla says military intelligence officers had identified Zapata Espinoza as the head of a cell of Zeta gang members in San Luis Potosi since early December, when raids in the area turned up other alleged gang members.

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