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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 16, 2016

Two Men Extradited From Mexico and Charged With Participation In Murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata And Attempted Murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila

Five Others Have Been Extradited in This Matter

            WASHINGTON – Two Mexican nationals have been extradited from Mexico to face charges for their alleged participation in the murder 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.

            The charges and extraditions were announced today by U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director Stephen E. Richardson of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division, and Director Sarah R. Saldaña of ICE.

            Jesus Ivan Quezada Piña, aka Loco, 28, and Alfredo Gaston Mendoza Hernandez, aka Camaron, aka Burger, 33, both of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, were  charged on May 16, 2013, in a four-count indictment with one count of murder of an officer or employee of the United States; one count of attempted murder of an officer or employee of the United States; one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person; and one count of using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.  The indictment was unsealed today when Quezada Piña and Mendoza Hernandez made their initial appearance before Senior U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the District of Columbia. Quezada Piña and Mendoza Hernandez were ordered detained without bail pending further court proceedings.

            “These extraditions reflect the continued determination of law enforcement to prosecute all who took part in the ambush of two federal agents,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. “Together with our law enforcement partners in the United States and in Mexico, we are committed to holding those responsible for the murder of Agent Zapata and the wounding of Agent Avila accountable for this brazen attack.”

            “With the extradition of these two individuals from Mexico, a total of seven people have been charged for their role in the murder of ICE Special Agent Zapata and attempted murder of Special Agent Victor Avila," said Assistant Director Richardson. "An attack against any federal agent serving his or her country remains a priority for the FBI until all responsible individuals are brought to justice."

            “Today is another step toward justice,” said ICE Director Saldaña. “The brutal attack on Special Agents Zapata and Avila and the murder of Agent Zapata will not go unanswered. The ICE family is deeply grateful to the Government of Mexico, the Department of Justice, and all of our other partners engaged in the relentless pursuit of the perpetrators of this heartless attack.”

            Four defendants previously pleaded guilty to offenses based on their roles in the murder and attempted murder of the ICE agents.  Julian Zapata Espinoza, aka Piolin, 35, pleaded guilty on May 23, 2013, to the murder of Special Agent Zapata and the attempted murder of Special Agent Avila.  Ruben Dario Venegas Rivera, aka Catracho, 28, pleaded guilty on Aug. 1, 2011, to federal charges concerning the murder of Special Agent Zapata and attempted murder of Special Agent Avila.  Jose Ismael Nava Villagran, aka Cacho, 33, pleaded guilty on Jan. 4, 2012, also to federal charges concerning the murder and attempted murder of the ICE agents.  Francisco Carbajal Flores, aka Dalmata, 41, pleaded guilty on Jan. 10, 2012, to conspiracy to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity and to being an accessory after the fact to the murder and attempted murder of the ICE agents.

            As part of their guilty pleas, Espinoza, Rivera and Villagran admitted to being members of a Los Zetas hit squad and to participating directly in the Feb. 15, 2011, ambush of the two special agents.  The fourth defendant, Flores, acknowledged assisting Zetas members after the attack. A fifth defendant, Jose Emanuel Garcia Sota, aka Juan Manuel Maldonado Amezcua, aka Safado, 35, was extradited to the United States on Oct. 1, 2015, for his participation in this attack and is currently awaiting trial.

            An indictment is a formal charging document and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

            The case is being investigated by the FBI, with substantial assistance from ICE, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service and the U.S. Marshals Service.  The investigation was also coordinated with the assistance of the Government of Mexico. The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has provided substantial assistance.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 
16-084
Updated May 17, 2016