Two Los Zetas Cartel Gunmen Receive Life in Prison for ICE Agent’s Murder

ICE Agent Victor Avila prays over casket of his partner, Agent Jaime Zapata. (AP Photo/Delcia Lopez)
AP File Photo/Delcia Lopez

Two members of Los Zetas drug cartel received life sentences their roles in the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata and the shooting of another federal agent on a Mexican highway in 2011.

Zeta members Jose Emanuel “Zafado” Garcia Sota and Jesus Ivan “Loco” Quezada Piña went before U.S. District Judge Royce Lambert, who handed down the life sentences on the murder charge and the attempted murder charge, information provided to Breitbart Texas by the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed.

Garcia and Quezada are two of seven Los Zetas members extradited from Mexico for their role in the February 15, 2011 murder of Zapata. The gunmen also shot and wounded ICE Agent Victor Avila.

While five of the Zetas pleaded guilty, Garcia and Quezada fought the charges and were convicted in July for “murder of an officer or employee of the United States; attempted murder of an officer or employee of the United States; attempted murder of an internationally protected person; and using, carrying and brandishing and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.”

According to prosecutors, Garcia and Quezada were part of a Los Zetas hit squad tasked with stealing vehicles along Mexican highways. The cartel gunmen ambushed an armored Chevrolet Suburban with diplomatic license plates. The two agents were traveling to Mexico City when the cartel gunmen tried to carjack the vehicle and fired more than 90 rounds. During the attack, Zapata was fatally shot, while Zapata was seriously wounded.

The five other Zetas tied to the murder are expected to be sentenced this week. Four of them previously pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder of a federal employee, while the fifth Zeta, Francisco “Dalmata” Carbajal Flores received conspiracy and accessory charges.

“The sentences handed down today should serve as a powerful message to drug cartels and other transnational criminal organizations that there is no escape from justice and that we will not rest until they have been held accountable for their crimes to the fullest extent of the law,” said ICE Acting Director Homan in a prepared statement.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon.  You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at