Today marks the one year anniversary of the death of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent (SA) Jaime Zapata who was shot and killed in the line of duty in Mexico. On this sad anniversary, we look back to mourn the loss, but also to remember the courageous and honorable man that he was.
"He was the type of person who wanted to contribute something significant to this world," said ICE Director John Morton.
SA Zapata joined ICE in 2006 and was assigned to the Deputy Assistant HSI office in Laredo, Texas, where he served on the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit, as well as the Border Enforcement Security Task Force. He was detailed to ICE's attaché office at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City at the time of the tragedy. By extending his service across the border, SA Zapata put his life on the line to keep this country safe.
Having lived and worked along the Southwest border, SA Zapata was familiar with the challenges of being a law enforcement officer in that area.
The ultimate sacrifice SA Zapata made for this country has not been forgotten. During National Police Week in May 2011, ICE honored SA Zapata's life and legacy with a plaque on the ICE Wall of Honor.
In April 2011, SA Zapata's hometown of Washington, Texas, held a special ceremony to rename a street after him. This street, close to his parents' home, was named Jamie J. Zapata Avenue. Zapata's family was the first to drive on it. To further show their great admiration for him, Washington officials also renamed the private road leading toward his parents' home as Jaime Jorge Drive. Other memorials for SA Zapata include a criminal justice training facility named after him at Kaplan College in McAllen, Texas; a resolution passed in the Texas Senate in his honor; and federal law enforcement legislation sponsored in his name.
Director Morton, who is spending today with SA Zapata's friends and family in Texas, is certain that SA Zapata's spirit will live on within ICE.
"No one will ever be able to replace Jaime," said Director Morton. "He lives on in all of us. He inspired each of us on a personal level to be the best we can be – as a son or daughter, brother or sister, a public servant, or any other role."