Posted: Feb 15, 2012 4:32 PM
Updated: Feb 15, 2012 4:44 PM
BROWNSVILLE - Hundreds gathered Wednesday to remember fallen ICE special agent Jaime Zapata.
Friends, family and even those who didn't know Zapata took part in the remembrance Mass. Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of Zapata's death.
Annie Serrato never met Zapata. She says being a part of Wednesday's Mass is her way of thanking the fallen hero.
"This was indeed a privilege to be here, to be with the family and show them how much we love them and appreciate everything he did for our country," says Serrato.
Zapata and his partner were ambushed by the Zeta cartel in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Zapata was killed in the attack; his partner survived.
During the Mass, there was a special blessing for Zapata. Sandy Montes says it was a moment she'll never forget.
"As a mother and I have sons, I can feel their pain or the pain as a mother and father," says Montes.
Zapata was born and raised in Brownville. At the time of his death, he was calling Laredo home. Federal authorities there are working on putting a memorial statute of Zapata inside the federal courthouse. The Laredo mayor, a former FBI agent, made the trip to Brownsville to remember Zapata.
"You have to pay respect to someone who is a true hero, somebody who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his nation fighting drugs and serving his country. That's the best thing I can do for one of his own," says Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas.
Zapata was on special loan to Mexico to fight drug smuggling. U.S. consulate members also attended the service.
"He was working for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico on a joint mission with multiple agencies. We want to recognize the sacrifice he made," says Michael Barkin, U.S. consul General-Matamoros.
It's a sacrifice that is still being remembered one year after his death. There was a memorial service held in the eight U.S. consulates in Mexico to honor Zapata for his death.