LatinaLista — The news that two ICE agents driving from Mexico City to Monterrey had been attacked, with one killed and the other wounded, was a bit of puzzle.
What were ICE agents doing in Mexico? What were they doing driving towards a city that has been in the news the last few months because of escalating cartel violence? Why didn’t they defend themselves?
Some questions have been answered.
Jaime Zapata, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement Agent killed in attack at drug cartel blockade.
The two agents were assigned to the ICE Attaché office in Mexico City. The assumption is that they were driving on official business to Monterrey. Who knows if they even had a way to defend themselves.
In the aftermath of the attack, Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, has made it clear that the two agents died in the line of duty. It’s bad news for the cartel responsible for their deaths, as it should be.
According to reports, the attackers are believed to be members or associates of the Mexican crime gang Los Zetas.
While this is yet another tragic loss of life of American citizens due to Mexico’s cartel violence, hopefully it’s the slap in the face the Obama administration needs to wake up to see the reality of what is happening in Mexico, regardless of what is told them by Calderon.
The reality in Mexico is that more and more people are dying needlessly every day — throughout the country. Whereas the murders and violence used to be basically confined along Mexico’s northern border, it’s blatant now in cities once considered safe like Guadalajara, Cuernavaca and Acapulco.
More and more of the country’s affluent are silently packing their bags and either moving to the U.S. or preparing to move by buying homes on the U.S. side.
Most high-level Mexican officials and military and police officers lack credibility with Mexican citizens. In Chihuahua, after the daytime murders of Juarez residents, government officials have tried their best to cast doubt or discredit the victims by trying to make them appear complicit with the cartels, rather than just the innocent victims they were.
While the U.S. has been mainly silent regarding the 60 deaths of US citizens at the hands of drug cartels in 2010 and the 79 deaths in 2009, the attack of the two ICE agents hit home with the U.S. federal government — unlike the murders of an elderly missionary wife, the husband on a jet ski or kids from El Paso visiting family in Juarez, to name a few.
How much this attack has hit home for the U.S. government is illustrated in the phone call between Sec. Napolitano and Mexican Interior Minister Fernando Blake Mora.
During the call, Secretary Napolitano emphasized to Minister Blake Mora that violence against DHS personnel in Mexico represents an attack against all those who serve our nation and put their lives at risk for our safety, and will not be tolerated by either country.
To prove her point, not even 24 hours after the attack, Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder established “a joint task force between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, which will be led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and will leverage the investigative capabilities of both agencies to work with Mexico in tracking down the perpetrators and swiftly bring them to justice.”
Further proof that this attack has become personal for our government can be found in the statement Attorney General Holder issued in a press release:
“The murder of Special Agent Jaime Zapata and the shooting of another ICE agent provide a sad reminder of the dangers American law enforcement officers face every day,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “Working with our Mexican counterparts, we have already launched an aggressive investigation, and this joint task force will ensure that every available resource is used to bring the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice.”
I’m sure the families of those other victims are wondering why these two agents get preferential treatment in light they were only driving on a highway, not unlike the U.S. Embassy employees who were chased and gunned down in their cars in Juarez or the missionary couple who was driving on a highway and refused to stop at an illegal roadblock.
The question must be asked why didn’t the government react then as it is now?
If there is a silver lining, it’s the fact that the government is finally reacting and will most probably pressure Mexican officials to hand over the cartel members who shot “one of their own.”
But they can’t stop there. Every American citizen killed at the hands of cartel violence is one of America’s own and deserves the same attention, focus, and pressure on officials to do the right thing.
Once the culprits are caught, the task force should be expanded, not disbanded. The level of internal government corruption the has allowed the violence to thrive in Mexico must be addressed by the US before we have a failed state on our southern border.
If that should happen, it’s not violence crossing the border that the US needs to worry about but the uncontrollable flow of Mexican citizens who harbor no fantasy of an American Dream just the desire to be in a safe place.