The family of a U.S. Customs Enforcement agent killed in a 2011 ambush on a Mexican highway and another agent who survived filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to hold the government and nearly two dozen other defendants accountable in the attack.

The federal lawsuit arises from the Feb. 15, 2011, incident, on which agents Jaime Zapata and Víctor Avila were attacked in their armored sport-utility vehicle near San Luis Potosí, México.

Zapata died and Avila was seriously wounded.

The lawsuit names the agents' supervisors, the company that armored their vehicle and gun shops that allegedly sold two of the weapons used. It alleges that Zapata and Avila never should have been sent on the dangerous mission, their armored SUV was flawed and at least two of the guns used in the attack were bought in the United States and eventually smuggled to Mexico.

On the day of the attack, Zapata and Avila drove from México City to San Luis Potosí to pick up equipment from another agent from the Monterrey office. Shortly after beginning their return trip, the pair was ambushed by armed men. Zapata parked the vehicle, but when he did so the automatic door locks unlocked. Gunmen pried open the door and in their struggle to close it the agents partially lowered the window which allowed their attackers to fire inside.

Julián Zapata Espinoza is awaiting trial on murder and attempted murder charges in federal court in Washington, D.C. He was allegedly a member of the Zetas cartel who Mexican authorities say mistook the agents for rivals.

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