The family of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agent Jaime Zapata, who was murdered in Mexico last year by suspected drug traffickers with weapons purchased in the United States, has filed a wrongful death claim against the U.S. government, the Justice Department said.

CBS reported Wednesday that Zapata’s family filed the wrongful death claim as the first step in filing a lawsuit against the Justice Department and other federal agencies.

“In an interview last November, Zapata’s family told CBS News they feel that U.S. law enforcement could have stopped the sale of a gun used to kill their son. CBS News obtained law enforcement records that show the gun that killed Zapata came from the U.S., and the suspects who allegedly trafficked it had been under law enforcement’s watch for months in Dallas but weren’t arrested,” the network said in a story posted on its Web site.

The 32-year-old Zapata and fellow ICE agent Victor Avila, who was wounded, were attacked on Feb. 15, 2011, by gunmen working for the Los Zetas drug cartel while driving from Mexico City to the northern city of Monterrey.

The two agents, who were assigned to the ICE attache office in Mexico City, were driving an armored vehicle when they were attacked in San Luis Potosi.

Avila has filed a separate claim against the U.S. government.

Mexican authorities have detained several people, all suspected members of Los Zetas, in connection with the attack.

About 30 ICE agents are currently working in Mexico, according to the agency, along with others from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI, with agents assigned to Mexico City and other cities, such as Monterrey, Hermosillo, Guadalajara, Ciudad Juarez and Durango.
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