Texas city renames street, drive for slain ICE agent

AUSTIN (Reuters) – A Texas border city has renamed a street and a private drive for Jaime Jorge Zapata, the U.S. federal agent shot to death by suspected cartel hit men in Mexico earlier this year, authorities said on Friday.

Zapata, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent from Brownsville, Texas, was shot dead in a brazen attack by gunmen in central Mexico in February which also wounded a second agent.

The city of Brownsville, which lies across the Rio Grande river from Matamoros, Mexico, renamed a street “Jaime J. Zapata Avenue,” at a ceremony earlier in the week, ICE said in a news release.

When Zapata’s parents, Amador and Mary, drove down the street for the first time, they were met with another surprise, ICE special agent Jerry Robinette said.

“The City of Brownsville had gone ahead and also renamed the private drive leading to their house as Jaime Jorge Drive,” said Robinette, who is in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations San Antonio, Texas.

Zapata and his colleague, Victor Avila, were driving in an armored vehicle on a highway from San Luis Potosi to Mexico City on February 15, when they were ambushed in broad daylight by suspected drug-gang members.

Zapata was killed and Avila was wounded in one of the more brazen attacks by drug cartels as they battle authorities who are trying to crack down on drug and weapons trafficking.

Mexican authorities have since detained more than 30 people in connection with the shooting, including a suspected money man for the Zetas drug cartel arrested earlier this month.

In late March, the U.S. and Mexican governments announced rewards totaling some $5.8 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Zapata worked as an investigator in Laredo, Texas, before being assigned to Mexico.

(Writing by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Chris Michaud)

Texas city renames street, drive for slain ICE agent