Mexico arrests another suspect in ICE agent slay

AP News
Posted: Apr 05, 2011 8:15 PM
Mexico arrests another suspect in ICE agent slay

Mexican federal police have arrested another suspect in the attack that killed one U.S. immigration agent and wounded another on a highway in central Mexico nearly two months ago, authorities said Tuesday.

Federal police said the man, Jose Manuel Garcia Soto, alias "El Safado," or "The Crazy One," had confessed to participating in the Feb. 15 killing of Jaime Zapata and wounding of Victor Avila. Both men were agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Garcia Soto, 30, was arrested Saturday in the northern state of San Luis Potosi, where the attack took place, federal police said.

Officers investigating the attack on the ICE agents followed information that led them to a house where Garcia Soto, an alleged member of the Zetas gang, was holding a kidnap victim. They then raided another house where five alleged associates were holding three other kidnap victims. Police seized a grenade and six assault rifles in the raids.

According to federal police, Garcia Soto said he participated in the attack on the ICE agents under the orders of Julian Zapata Espinoza _ known by the nickname "El Piolin," or Tweety Bird _ who was arrested in February.

Federal police said Garcia Soto oversaw drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and robbery operations and was involved in the killing of members of rival gangs. No formal charges have been filed against him or the other suspects.

Zapata was killed after gunmen forced stopped his SUV on a highway in San Luis Potosi. One of the suspects who allegedly took part in the shooting said gunmen mistook the agents' SUV for a vehicle used by a rival gang.

San Luis Potosi borders two northern states where the Zetas and the Gulf cartel have waged bloody turf wars. Zapata and Avila were temporarily detailed to the ICE attache office in Mexico City and were driving from the northern city of Monterrey to the capital when they were attacked.

Also Tuesday, police in the Gulf coast of Veracruz found the bodies of five men who were tortured and shot to death.

Veracruz state prosecutors said police found the men's bodies in an empty lot in the southern town of Carlos A. Carrillo.

Prosecutors said each of the five had bruises all over his body and was shot in the head.

Veracruz is one of several eastern Mexico states where the Gulf and Zetas cartels are fighting for control.