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Recent Deaths of 3 Fed Agents Highlight Growing Danger of the Job

ICE Agent Jaime Zapata killed in Mexico/ice photo

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The shooting deaths of two federal agents last week and three in two months highlight the heightened risk to federal investigators who are confronting increasingly violent fugitives, drug traffickers and other criminals, authorities said.

The killing of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Mexico on Tuesday was followed by the slaying of a deputy U.S. marshal in West Virginia on Wednesday, an unusual confluence of events that left officials deeply troubled. A Border Patrol agent was fatally shot in Arizona in December.

The killings, while not connected, come amid a broadening federal role in fighting violent crime that was once left mainly to state authorities, investigators said. Federal-state task forces on violent crime have multiplied since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, bringing federal agents in closer contact with dangerous criminals. And the government says it is pouring resources into fighting drug trafficking and other crimes along the border with Mexico.

“You’re seeing feds playing a much more active role in fighting violent crime, and that’s putting us in harm’s way,” said Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

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