Survivor Shares Last Moments with Fallen Agent after Attack

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BROWNSVILLE – The survivor of a cartel attack in Mexico shared his last moments with fallen hero Jaime Zapata.

Special agents Zapata and Victor Avila were together when seven members of the Zeta Cartel ambushed them near San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Zapata was killed in the shooting.

Although Avila’s physical wounds have healed six years later, the wounds that pierced his heart and soul remain.

He said so much remains unanswered. But those questions are what fuels his determination to make sure Zapata is never forgotten.

“This was actually my very first time I was able to tell the facts of the case on an official’s record,” he said.

On Thursday, Avila finally had a chance to tell what happened on February 15, 2011 on a stretch of Highway 57 in Mexico. It was also CHANNEL 5 NEWS’ first interview with him.

Avila said the time since the attack has not been easy for him or his family. He said the memory of the events of that day and the mark it left on his life is never far away.

He added the bond he and his family have formed with the Zapata’s has grown tighter over the years.

But he is not happy with the way others have treated them.

“Yes, there’s a lot of issues and a lot of phases to this attack. One thing is the actual attack and how it occurred,” he explained. “Another phase is the decision of the Department of Homeland Security and how they failed to acknowledge the alert issued by the State Department, and ignored the order by the U.S. Ambassador not to have anyone travel on Highway 57.”

Avila said they were a series of events and decisions that led him and Zapata to a deadly confrontation.

“I saw him. I saw the side of him get him. Eventually, I noticed the wound on his leg. At that point, it was chaotic,” he recalled.

After the gunmen left, Avila said it would be 40 minutes before Mexican authorities arrived at the scene.

“Jaime was becoming unresponsive. He told me he was going to die. I told him he was not, that I was calling and help was on the way,” he said.

But Avila said help came too late for Zapata.

We asked Avila if he had a chance to see Jaime today, what would he tell him.

“One of the reasons I think I’m a survivor and that I’m here – I have a duty not only to Jaime and the Zapata family, my family as well –  is to seek the truth. To find accountability and that’s what I would tell him, that I’m here to fight and seek further justice,” he said.

Two Mexican nationals were found guilty on all charges on Thursday. That brings a total of seven people charged in the February 2011 shooting of two U.S. federal agents. 


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