fast and furious

Family of second murdered federal agent files lawsuit against U.S. government over “Fast and Furious”

by SHARYL ATTKISSON, CBS NEWS  |  published on February 15, 2013

A second wrongful death lawsuit has been filed blaming U.S. government officials involved in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives’ “Operation Fast and Furious,” which allowed thousands of weapons to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Tuesday, the Texas family of fallen Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Jaime Zapata sued the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the former head of the ATF and others they blame in Zapata’s death.

In February 2011, Zapata and his partner Victor Avila were gunned down in Mexico by suspected drug cartel members. Avila survived but was critically injured and has joined Zapata’s family in the suit.

As CBS News reported, at least two of the murder weapons had been trafficked by suspects the ATF had under surveillance but failed to arrest. Zapata’s parents argue that if ATF agents had arrested the suspects and confiscated the weapons early on, the rifles might not have been used in their son’s murder.

The Justice Department has not commented except to say that, at the time, the ATF “was not aware of,” a suspect’s purchase of one weapon used in Zapata’s murder. Justice officials said answering further questions would jeopardize the investigation.

Zapata and Avila were on assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico when their supervisors sent them on a mission to pick up some equipment that required driving on an infamous stretch of highway “known to be patrolled and controlled by a dangerous criminal organization,” according to the suit. That was despite a recent travel notice that warned U.S. embassy employees of the danger. The lawsuit says Avila objected, but that the two were ordered to make the trip anyway without escort and in an armored Chevrolet Suburban that did not have working GPS.

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