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ICE agent Jaime Zapata was “killed by mistake”, said alleged Zeta member.

Zetas member Zapata Espinoza, now imprisoned, is accused of taking part in the killing of a U.S. agent.

Julian Zapata Espinoza, a alleged member of Zetas, is one of the suspects in the killing of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent. After being arrested by mexican authorities, Zapata Espinoza told the special forces that the attack was executed by a group of Zetas drug gang gunmen. According to Zapata Espinoza, the Zetas hitmen mistook the agent’s SUV for a vehicle used by a rival gang, possibly Gulf Cartel.

The explanation that the murder was an accident could have a deterrent effect within the U.S. government, because President Obama is going to meet with President Calderon at the White House next March 3 and the Obama administration was deeply concerned that Mexican cartels now be starting to kill U.S. agents on purpose.

This possibility would force the U.S. government to take much tougher measures in the Mexican war on drugs, including increased intervention of U.S. agencies in Mexico.

Julian Zapata Espinoza  is also known by the nickname “El Piolin” (in relation to the cartoon Tweety Bird), due to his short stature.

“El Piolín ” was captured along with five other suspected Zetas members during an mexican army raid last Wednesday. the raid was realized on Zeta´s safehouses in the northern city of San Luis Potosi, near where ICE agent Jaime Zapata was killed and fellow ICE agent Victor Avila was wounded on last Feb. 15.

“That shooting of the ICE´s agents occurred because of the characteristics of the SUV vehicle, given that the Zeta suspects thought it was being used by members of a rival criminal group,” an army spokesman, Col. Ricardo Trevilla, said to the press.

The two agents were traveling in a Chevrolet Suburban. Mexico’s drug cartels have frequently set up roadblocks and ambushes to steal large SUVs and pickups, vehicles they like to use.

Trevilla said military intelligence officers had identified Zapata Espinoza as the head of a cell of Zeta gang members in San Luis Potosi since early December, when raids in the area turned up other alleged gang members.

San Luis Potosi, en route to Mexico City, is at the center of a power struggle between two rival drug gangs, the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel.

Another suspect of the killing of the U.S. agent is Jesus Rejon, according to statements of U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul.

In an intervention in the Texas Senate, McCaul said that the alleged suspect Jesus Rejon, is a former corporal in an elite Mexican army unit who defected to the Zetas. It was not clear whether Rejon was in Mexican custody.

Rejon, 34, is wanted by Mexican and U.S. authorities. The U.S. State Department has offered a reward of up to $5 million for his capture.

Zapata, 32, and Avila were attacked when gunmen forced their sport utility vehicle off the highway. Avila was shot twice in the leg and is recovering in the United States.

Escalating violence in oil-producing Mexico, a key U.S. trade partner, has caused alarm in Washington, which is providing $1.3 billion in funding and training for Mexico.