An ICE Agent’s Long Quest for Justice
Victor Avila i s a s urvivor. Soft-spoken but iron-willed, he dedicated his life to law enforcement and to his country. Yet, the feds are now fighting tooth and nail to bury the full truth about the 2011 ambush by Los Zetas drug cartel thugs in Mexico that left him gravely wounded and his partner, special agent Jaime Zapata, dead.
This week, t wo of t he Mexican gangsters convicted in the horror on Highway 57 between Mexico City and Monterrey were sentenced to double life terms in prison.
“HSI Special Agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila were i n Mexico t o protect and serve our country when they were ambushed by these ruthless criminals, who will now spend the rest of their lives in a prison cell,” acting assistant attorney general Blanco announced Nov. 6.
“This case serves as a reminder that if you harm a U.S. agent, the U.S. government will pursue you to the ends of the earth to ensure that you are brought to justice.”
Five others received lesser sentences of 35, 34, 30, 28 and 12 years for murder and attempted murder, which Avila called a “complete and utter disappointment.”
As he described in his victim impact statement, “I was shot in three places and had shrapnel and glass imbedded in my body in too many places to count. Not only did I have to undergo multiple surgeries to remove the bullets and shrapnel and stitch together my shredded muscles and skin, but I also had to learn to walk again.”
Avila’s wife, who also worked for the government, lost her job. The ICE agent’s health care costs and other bills related to the attack’s aftermath piled up, leaving the family nearly $200,000 in debt and his wife and two children traumatized. “To this day, the government has not reimbursed my out-of-pocket expenses related to my work injuries,” he told U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth.
Another disgraceful indignity: This week, the feds refused to cover the Avilas’ $3,000 in travel and lodging costs from Texas to D.C. for the sentencing hearing, but did provide humanitarian parole for several of the Zetas’ family members from Mexico to attend the trial.
Even more disappointing, however, is the callousness of Beltway bureaucrats obstructing t he Avilas’ and
Immigration Customs Enforcement special agent Victor Avila and his wife pay their last respects to their fallen comrade Jaime Jorge Zapata during burial services at Rose Lawn Memorial Garden cemetery in Brownsville, Texas, Feb., 22, 2011. Avila was in the same vehicle as Zapata in Mexico.