Cartel hitmen who murdered one I.C.E. agent, shot another get convictions vacated

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Washington, D.C. – Two Los Zetas cartel members who were convicted in 2017 of killing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent nine years ago have had two of their convictions vacated.

While officials had to go through copious amounts of red tape to see these two individuals extradited and tried in federal court, as the murder occurred in Mexico, it’s been revealed the duo were able to contort interpreted law to have two counts vacated in an appeals court.

A jury handed down a guilty verdict inside of a courtroom back in 2017 regarding four charges against Jose Emanuel “Zafado” Garcia Sota and Jesus Ivan “Loco” Quezada Pina in the death of ICE agent Jaime Zapata.

But apparently, according to Senior Circuit Judge Williams, the two cartel members were never allowed to be charged or convicted of 18 U.S.C.§ 1114, which criminalizes the killing of an officer or employee of the United States.

In an opinion by Judge Williams that overturned two counts of murder against the duo, neither Garcia Sota and Quezada Pina can face charges of murder or attempted murder of an officer or employee of the U.S. – because they didn’t kill Agent Zapata in the United States.

The agent was killed while in San Luis Potosi, Mexico in February 2011. Thus, the judge at the appellate level of the courts said that murder and attempted murder under § 1114 has a “purely domestic scope”.

The Monitor newspaper in McAllen, Texas, also helped break the news on this technicality pulled by the convicted killers’ legal team.

While this vacated verdict has overturned the life sentences for both of their murder and attempted murder of a federal officer charges, they’re still serving life under use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence causing death.

Although it should be noted that the two tried to have the courts overturn that conviction under the same grounds.  Now that they’ve had these charges vacated, everything is up in the air.

It’s concerning to know that people who commit crimes against not just law enforcement, but any American citizen, can avoid federal prosecution if certain crimes are committed outside the United States.

Keep in mind, these two convictions were overturned simply because there was no “extraterritorial scope” presented in the law used to charge Garcia Sota and Quezada Pina.

So, while the fates of the two men currently incarcerated aren’t going to necessarily change regarding their length of time in prison, this ruling poses dangerous elements in future cases.

Victor Avila is the other ICE Agent who was shot.  He’s a friend of the team at Law Enforcement Today.  He had the following to say about the vacated convictions:

“The Zapata family and I are devastated by the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision. This sends the wrong message to the terrorist cartels and threatens the safety of our agents serving in Mexico and abroad.” 

Avila is damn right that this set precedent creates safety issues for agents. Judge Williams opinion has essentially said that while you can serve our country’s interest abroad, the federal courts won’t allow our country’s federal laws to bring about justice against those who harm our agents outside of the United States.

Back when the guilty verdicts were handed down in 2017, Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan stated:

“I applaud today’s verdict and hope that it provides some measure of solace to the victims and their families.” 

However, the decision that was reached back in January 2020 is nothing to applaud over, unless you’re the criminal scum that murdered an agent who was simply on assignment in Mexico. If we thought cartels were bold before, just wait until news of this vacated conviction reaches them.

In the meantime, the war on ICE seems to be happening right in front of our very eyes – in the most surprising of places: the banks.

As we reported Sunday, several Republican senators, led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), are introducing legislation to go after big banks in the United States who strip services from federal contractors, like those denied services for working with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

The legislation, titled the Financial Defense of Industrial Contractors (FDIC) Act, would take on six big banks for their efforts in retaliating against federal contractors working with ICE.

Executives for Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Barclays, and SunTrust have said they will no longer provide depository services to federal contractors with ICE for no other reason than their opposition to national immigration law.

These six banks alone control over $7 trillion in combined assets.

Under Rubio’s legislation — which Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) are co-sponsoring — big banks with assets over $50 billion would have their Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance removed if they refuse to provide services to federal contractors.

“Some of our nation’s largest banks have decided to cater to the radical left’s ‘woke’ agenda by abusing their systemic influence in our economy to deprive law-abiding federal contractors of banking services critical to their business,” Rubio said.

He made the comments to Breitbart News in a statement.

“Banks have a right to deny funds to certain businesses, but they shouldn’t enjoy taxpayer-provided guarantees if they are undermining the public policy of the United States.”

Should the provision be violated, the FDIC would begin terminating the bank’s deposit insurance.

“Banks have a right to deny funds to whichever businesses they choose, but they should not be able to deny funds to businesses carrying out federal policy and continue to receive taxpayer money,” a spokesperson for Rubio said.

As Breitbart News has chronicled, big banks have used or attempted to use their concentrated corporate power in the market to turn off services for federal contractors, gun manufacturers, and companies constructing pipelines for U.S. energy.

The decisions come as a number of elected Democrats and leftist activists have pressed banks to act on behalf of the social justice movement.

In other means of interference, most 2A supporters know that some banks have decided not only to refuse to lend money to weapons manufacturers, but also to impose restrictions on business clients who sell guns.

Banks are even exploring ways to monitor card holders’ gun purchases, possibly a prelude to far more intrusive measures directed against individual customers rather than retail clients.

As much as conservatives like the idea of a banking industry freer from regulation, but supporting citizen’s rights has them in a Catch 22. 

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The choice between concocting a new regulation that would violate free-market principles and letting financial institutions destroy a legal industry has split the GOP.

But the notion that what these banks are doing is merely the free market at work is a distortion of the truth. These restrictions are an attempt to use banks’ power to circumvent the normal legal and political process. For Congress to stand by and let bankers neutralize the Second Amendment would be a dereliction of duty, not a defense of the free market.

In a recent article in the National Review, Stephanie Keith of Reuters explained that the attitude of some banks toward guns is similar to President Obama’s stance on immigration laws:

If Congress chooses not to act, that gives them license to act on their own.

The primary cheerleader for this movement is New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin.

The writer, who doubles as one of the creators of Billions, the Showtime program about a United States Attorney and a billionaire hedge-fund owner who manipulate, exploit, and violate the law to advance their interests, has been urging the financial industry to put gun manufacturers out of business.

These efforts started with Citicorp saying it would forbid its retail clients — businesses that, for example, receive loans or offer store credit cards — to sell guns to anyone who didn’t pass a background check (which is already the law for licensed gun dealers).

It also barred sales to customers under 21, as well as sales of bump stocks.

Bank of America followed, saying it would no longer lend money to manufacturers of “military style” weapons.

(Bank of America was in a particularly interesting position since it was part of a group refinancing Remington Outdoor, a major manufacturer of assault weapons, as it emerged from bankruptcy.)

BlackRock Funds, the world’s largest asset manager, said it would offer a new investment fund that excluded gun manufacturers and sellers.

In the resulting outcry, part of the problem was that the discussion mixed up two very different issues: the willingness of banks to lend money to weapons manufacturers and the ability of consumers to use credit cards to make purchases.

While banks’ lending policies can have a devastating impact on the companies denied financing, there is no inherent right to a loan from any bank.

But if the banks use their financial clout, which they maintain under federal oversight, to impose restrictions on companies’ sales practices, that is a significant step toward a bank-imposed gun-control regime — one that could ultimately choke off the right of consumers to purchase legal products.

When so-called socially responsible lending and investing crosses over into ordering companies to stop selling certain products or to curtail sales to certain buyers, banks begin assuming a power that no one voted to give them.

And one needn’t be an alarmist to understand that once financial institutions are allowed to start down this road, they could end up curtailing the rights of businesses and consumers in a way that is incompatible with democracy.

Another way citizens can possibly influence these matters is by selecting ICE and 2A friendly banks to do business with, and voice their opinions one account at a time.

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