A U.S. national and former medical student pleaded guilty July 13 to shooting a U.S. diplomat stationed at the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico. The FBI and Diplomatic Security Services (DSS) investigated the case in close cooperation with Mexican authorities and with valuable assistance from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The FBI offered an award of $20,000 for the capture of the man who had shot Christopher Ashcraft. A manhunt was immediately launched, and some 48 hours later Zia Zafar, a 33-year-old California native, was captured and arrested.
Zafar pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person, and one count of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
Zafar was studying in Guadalajara at the time of the attack at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara. On Jan. 6, 2017, Zafar, angry over a denied visa, armed himself with a firearm, donned a wig and sunglasses to disguise his appearance, and waited in a gym parking garage for the vice consul, who worked at the U.S Consulate in Guadalajara. Zafar admitted that he targeted the vice consul because he knew from earlier surveillance that the victim worked at the U.S. Consulate, but did not know him personally.
“Zia Zafar surveilled and targeted a U.S. official serving in Mexico, lying in wait before shooting him in the chest in a heinous act of premeditated violence,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan. “Today’s guilty plea sends a clear message that the Department of Justice will aggressively prosecute those who seek to harm U.S. officials serving overseas. The Department of Justice will continue work with our domestic and international partners to ensure that anyone who targets U.S. officials abroad will be brought to justice.”