I’m part of ‘Generation Z’. My father was shot in the line of duty. I am not one of ‘them’. It’s time to stand up.

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“All cops are bastards! Defund the police! Cops are pigs!” These are just a few of the tweets that appear on my daily Twitter timeline, with thousands of retweets and likes supporting the message. The gap between law enforcement and Gen-Z is pronounced now more than ever, and as a member of Gen-Z, it pains me to see the blatant disregard and disrespect of law enforcement.

With supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement taking to the streets, and rioters destroying property and looting stores, it has become apparent that there is no longer a sense of respect for authority.

The death of George Floyd was a senseless killing, and in no way am I defending his killer, or the cops that stood by passively and watched. However, one bad cop should not define the majority of good cops. You can condemn the killing of George Floyd, speak out against racism, and still support the police.

The majority of cops are decent, hardworking people that put their lives on the line in order protect and serve others.

“They have to do that as part of their job” is a common argument I see pop up frequently. I understand that. But what people don’t understand, is how these officers choose to become the people that protect and serve, no one forces them to.

Many of my generation do not want to acknowledge the good that police officers and law enforcement do, and the uncertainties they face by the end of their shift.

If anyone even dares post something to Twitter or Instagram that shows support for law enforcement, they are immediately attacked for spreading ‘cop propaganda’ and are reminded that all law enforcement agencies are part of a bigger system that promotes racism and violence.

At the height of the protests, my Twitter was flooded with petitions to sign, links to donate to bail funds, and constant reminders that cops were the enemy.

I was met with countless black squares on Instagram as a show of solidarity. Celebrities and politicians were using their platforms to spread awareness, and while I support peaceful protesting and respect different points of view, I denounce the instigated violence against law enforcement.

How will progress be accomplished if my generation won’t even listen to law enforcement and attempt to compromise? They are not open to any open discussion, and instead, want to cut budgets for training, equipment and new hires.

By the way, I personally know the sacrifice that law enforcement officers make. My father was shot, and his partner killed in the line of duty. If you support the disbanding and defunding of our police, then you also support everything my father fought so hard against, i.e., human trafficking, drug trafficking and money laundering, just to name a few.

In the words of Winston Churchill, I say to my generation, “courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

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LET Unity

As mentioned, Sofia’s father was one of two ICE agents that were ambushed by cartel members. He survived, but his partner wasn’t that lucky. Here is the full story Law Enforcement Today brought you.

We’ve all been there: A supervisor tells us to do something and we roll our eyes because it’s the stupidest thing we’ve ever heard. But, we clench our teeth and say, “Yes, sir,” because they’re the supervisor and we don’t want to get slapped with insubordination.

This week, I spoke to one man who had to do just that, and he lost a fellow law enforcement agent and has a lifetime of side effects because of it.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila
 

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico.

Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.”

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.

On February 15, 2011, an order went down the chain of command. Agent Avila received the order from his supervisor, Assistant Attaché Juan Gelista, to travel north and meet agents from a different location (Monterey, Mexico) to pick up some equipment.

Right off the bat, there were many problems with this particular mission.

First, Avila was assigned to go with Agent Zapata, who had only been in Mexico City for a week. Zapata was a TDY, meaning his assignment at that location was temporary duty. Because of this, Agent Zapata was not properly trained or briefed on the area he was in. As a result, he was underprepared for the mission.

Agents who were classified as TDY’s often did jobs they weren’t supposed to be doing in Mexico City because the agents there were so understaffed and overworked. The attachés got lax in their policies to compensated for much needed staffing.

Additionally, Agent Zapata did not hold diplomatic immunity. This will become an important note later.

Avila spoke with Gelista his concerns for the mission, including the dangerous path he and Zapata would have to take to get to the meeting point with the agents from Monterey.

To get to a half-way point between Mexico City and Monterey, the agents would have to travel through San Luis Potosi, which had been flagged as an extremely dangerous route. A travel advisory had been put out for the area between San Luis Potosi and westward to Zacatecas.

I'm part of 'Generation Z'.  My father was shot in the line of duty.  I am not one of 'them'.  It's time to stand up.
Compliments of Victor Avila

Specifically, Avila said that the Ambassador has just issued an alert a couple of weeks prior to the embassy prohibiting agents from driving on Highway 57, which is the route that would be necessary to meet the Monterey agents.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

Los Zetas cartels controlled the area between those locations, as well as all the highways. Normally to travel through the areas, ICE or other agencies would notify local police and plan to pass through with a police escort.

I'm part of 'Generation Z'.  My father was shot in the line of duty.  I am not one of 'them'.  It's time to stand up.
Compliments of Victor Avila

Avila told me:

“In Mexico, we have no authority. Everything we do is through the host government, Mexico in this case. That’s always our standard operating procedure.”

Avila requested to bring the equipment down through what’s known as a diplomatic pouch, which essentially is cargo truck similar to a U-Haul, which delivers embassy employee’s mail, packages, etc, and has diplomatic immunity.

Gelista went to speak with his supervisors, Deputy Attaché Anthony Salisbury and Attaché Jere Miles. They had a closed-door meeting, and when they emerged, Agent Avila was very disappointed to hear that he was still ordered to complete the pickup.

Salisbury and Miles said that the diplomatic pouch or air would take too long to set up, so they needed Avila to go.

Agent Avila started to protest, but then he heard something from Deputy Attaché Salisbury that he told me he will never forget hearing.

Salisbury said:

“I’m not aware of any security issues in Mexico. I need that equipment by close of business day tomorrow.”

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

Gelista figuratively shrugged his shoulders to Avila, and they both knew that the mission was a go. It was so ordered.

Normally, they operate with two armored vehicles with at least two agents per vehicle, but because there was no planning for this mission, Avila and Zapata were on their own.

Avila made the arrangements with the Monterey location, and was forced to agree to meet further north than San Luis Potosi, because those agents didn’t want to risk traveling through San Luis Potosi either.

Avila rounded up Agent Zapata, and the two headed out in the armored Suburban. They made it to the meeting point with Monterey agents, grabbed the equipment and ate.

Then they started the drive back to Mexico City.

As you probably guessed by now, Agents Avila and Zapata were ambushed by cartel members along Highway 57. The cartel surrounded the agents with their vehicles, forcing Zapata, who was driving, to stop the car.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

When the ICE vehicle was placed in park, the doors automatically unlocked, which shouldn’t be possible for the armored vehicle.

One of the cartel members opened the driver’s door, but Agent Zapata was able to pull it shut again. During this move, the passenger window was rolled down about two inches.

The cartel members took advantage of this and stuck firearms into the cabin through the open window and began to fire at the agents.

Agent Avila was able to get the window rolled up, which stopped the rest of the gunfire due to the bulletproof glass.

Agent Zapata did not survive the gunfire.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

Agent Avila, who was in the passenger seat, was struck three times before he was able to pull the gearshift at the steering wheel down into drive and push Zapata’s leg on the accelerator and get away from the cartel.

The vehicle veered and crashed into the median of the highway. Agent Avila saw one of the suspect vehicles take off. When he saw the second vehicle start to leave, he thought the assault was over.

But then, the vehicle did a U-turn and came back toward the Agents’ vehicle. The suspects stopped hood to hood with the ICE vehicle and two men stepped out of the car. They each had an AK-47 in their hands.

The men looked at Agent Avila, and Agent Avila looked at them.

Again, they opened fire on Agents Avila and Zapata, spraying the entire front of the vehicle with bullets. The suspects took off, and Agent Avila finally realized he had been shot. He called into the embassy and asked for help.

You can listen to his chilling call here. Listener discretion is advised.

Fast forward to a few years later. Avila eventually returned to work, although it was never the same. The cartel members were all given prison sentences: the two main shooters were given life sentences and the others were given 12-35 years.

Avila was never given a debrief of the incident. No details of the incident. Nothing.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

What he did learn later was that the equipment the Attachés needed so badly was surveillance equipment. They were a part of a high-profile money laundering operation that the equipment was essential for.

What he also learned is that the supervisors knew about the need for the equipment, and had the first part of it delivered to Monterey in December of 2010.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

So why the rush? Why did the supervisors wait until the day before the equipment was absolutely needed?

To that, Avila had this to say:

“That’s a good question. To this day, I still don’t know. It was so spur of the moment, but they knew for weeks. Months, actually. They had already declined the options I suggested- diplomatic pouch, air delivery- weeks before.

The supervisors, they were incompetent. They lacked experience, or vision, or decision making. And, in my speculation, they were clouded by the specific money laundering case, and what the glory of the case could do for their careers.”

The Office of Special Council requested ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to complete an investigation into the incident two years ago, which is the first time, Avila said, that he was ever interviewed about the incident.

According to the report, the investigation substantiated several of Agent Avila’s allegations, such as ICE officials failing to properly coordinate additional support for the agents with US or Mexican forces, failing to properly brief and prepare the agents in advance to discuss security measures, etc., and failing to provide proper tracking equipment in the armored vehicle. 

The report also indicated that the Mexico City ICE office in particular had weak operational security and didn’t offer proper policies or training.

This is all well and good. There are parts of the report that Avila said he disagreed with, but for the most part he at least felt validated that the supervisors were found to have mismanaged the situation.

However, there is still no accountability anywhere to be found. In interviews that Avila didn’t even know about from OPR, people flat out lied, according to Avila.

First, Miles said that they don’t normally contact the host government for “routine assignments,” which, as already stated, is completely false. The host government is the first person they contact.

Second, and what struck Avila on a personal level, was that Gelista stated during his interview that he volunteered to go on the mission in Avila’s place.

Avila said:

“No, that’s completely and utterly false. I didn’t want to go on that mission: I would have jumped up and said yes if someone volunteered. That was an ultimate betrayal, like he had stolen valor from me or something.”

What’s worse, is that the first suspect arrested for this incident is set to be released next August. That person received 12 years in prison for aiding and abetting the criminals who murdered Agent Jaime Zapata and shot and injured Agent Victor Avila.

The murderers who plead guilty and testified received 35 years in prison each for their part in the incident.

The murderers who did not plead guilty or testify received life in prison appealed their sentences, and months ago their murder charges were dismissed in a DC appellate court.

Why, you ask?

Because of that pesky little detail I mentioned before: Agent Jaime Zapata, being temporary, or TDY, was not covered under diplomatic status.

 
Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

The murder happened extraterritorially, or outside of the United States.

And, therefore, even though other appellate courts in other cases have said that the murder statue applies regardless of where the murder occurs, these three judges that sat on this case and decided that the cartel members here don’t deserve life sentences because of a technicality.

The murderers will now be retried and are facing the same lower sentences as the other involved members, or 12-35 years.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

What does that tell cartel members about our country, about the way we value the lives of our law enforcement agents?

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

It tells them that they’ll get minimal punishment for murdering American agents.

That they’ll sit in jail for a few years but then ultimately be released on whatever technicality their attorney can find.

Jaime Zapata is dead.

Victor Avila was diagnosed with PTSD from this incident. He has chronic pain issues in his back and leg and still gets injections in his spine periodically.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

He suffered permanent hearing loss in his left ear from the many gunshots right next to his head. He also suffered a shoulder injury when their vehicle crashed.

And their murderers are getting reduced sentences.

No disciplinary action has come from this incident or the investigation.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila
 

If reading any of this pisses you off, it won’t make you feel any better to know that both then-Deputy Attaché Anthony Salisbury and then-Attaché Jere Miles have since been promoted. One of them is the Special Agent in Charge in Miami, and one holds the same title in New Orleans.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

Victor Avila and Jaime Zapata’s family want accountability. They want the supervisors to testify in a Congressional hearing, in front of the Homeland Security Committee.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

There are questions that Avila deserves to have the answers to; that Zapata’s family deserves to have the answers to.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila
 

Disciplinary action aside, the accountability and awareness are what Avila said is most important to him.

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila

Victor Avila and Jaime Zapata’s family want to know why. Why the rush, why weren’t there other agents assigned, why did the supervisors know about the need for the equipment for two months before deciding there was an exigency?

Victor Avila was a Senior Special Agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned to Mexico City, Mexico. Avila was placed in a situation that was unsafe against his warnings, and an investigation by the Office of Special Council called it “gross mismanagement.” Unfortunately, the investigation, while at least bringing forth some type of validation, was not able to bring back his assigned partner, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by cartel members during the mission.
Provided by Victor Avila
 

Right now, there is no one being held accountable for this horrible, tragic incident.

That needs to change.

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