WASHINGTON (AP) — The family of an Immigration and Customs agent slain in Mexico has filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against the U.S. government.
A pair of South Texas law firms representing the family of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata filed the claim last week. It names ICE, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Justice Department as defendants. The claim notice is a precursor to a lawsuit.
Zapata was killed in a roadside attack in northern Mexico in February 2011. A fellow agent was wounded.
According to the claim, two AK-47 assault rifles bought in Texas and smuggled into Mexico were used by the attackers to fire more than 90 rounds at the men. Lawyers for the agents said the government's practice of allowing U.S.-bought weapons to be taken into Mexico as part of broader gun trafficking investigations involving Mexican cartels allowed the weapons used in this case to be smuggled across the border.
The filing alleges that ATF officials in Texas knew the men who bought the two guns used in the Zapata killing were buying weapons bound for Mexico but did nothing to stop them.
The practice, which has been highlighted in ongoing investigations of the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious, has been widely criticized by lawmakers.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.