House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Wednesday urged House Democrats to pass bipartisan legislation to place those who killed law enforcement officers in prison and end a loophole that has set killers free. The legislation has already passed the Senate.
Titled the "Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act," the legislation honors people like ICE Special Agent Jamie Zapata, who was murdered by members of the Los Zetas drug cartel in Mexico in 2011. The cartel members had their convictions overturned based on a legal technicality. The bill would end the loophole.
Without the protection afforded by Section 1114, federal agents serving overseas might find themselves targeted because criminals know they can't be prosecuted.
In 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents Zapata and Victor Avila were deployed to Mexico to help investigate and thwart the flow of drugs into the United States.
While driving in an armored SUV with diplomatic plates, they were ambushed by a "hit team" from the Los Zetas drug cartel. Nearly 100 rounds were fired into the vehicle using handguns and assault rifles, wounding Avila and killing Zapata, the DOJ said.
Under pressure from the Obama administration, the Mexican government extradited seven cartel members associated with the murder. Two of them, Jose Garcia Sota and Jesus Ivan Quezada Pina, were found guilty in 2017 of several federal charges, including murder of a federal law enforcement officer under 18 USC 1114, the federal statute that pertains to killing or attempting to kill officers of the United States.
But late last month, a panel on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., vacated part of the convictions for Garcia Sota and Quezada Pina, arguing that Section 1114 does not apply to violations committed outside of the U.S.
In late July, both the Zapata and Avila families wrote a letter to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and McCarthy, calling on them to pass the legislation in the Democrat-controlled House, the Daily Caller reported.
“This week, House Democrats had the opportunity to pass a bipartisan bill, which passed the Senate unanimously back in May, that would have corrected this technicality and is strongly supported by our brave and heroic law enforcement officers, but they chose not to do so. Congress must pass this bill to close this loophole so no other law enforcement officer — or their family — will be denied the justice they deserve. There is no reason to delay — House Democrats must bring this bill to the floor immediately,” McCarthy said in a statement to the Daily Caller.
The Daily Caller said it contacted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office about when the legislation will be brought to the floor for a vote, with no response at press time.
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