Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez
As two border patrol agents face the commencement of prison terms for shooting and wounding a man smuggling drugs into the U.S, five congressman are calling on Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to intervene.
The lawmakers have asked President Bush to pardon Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, who were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years, respectively, in October. But the sentences are scheduled to begin Jan. 17, and in lieu of a pardon, the congressmen are asking Gonzalez to request the Justice Department to direct federal prosecutors not to oppose a court motion to keep the agents free on bond during the appeals process.
The drug smuggler was granted immunity for his testimony.
Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.; Ted Poe, R-Texas; Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.; Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; and Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.; will announce their effort at an 11 a.m. news conference today in the nation’s capitol.
The lawmakers said in a statement “several discrepancies in the government’s case strongly question whether justice has been served, and permitting these men to be incarcerated in the interim puts their lives at risk.”
The congressman will be joined today by Compean, former Border Patrol agent Andy Ramirez of Friends of the Border Patrol and T.J. Bonner and Rich Pierce of the National Border Patrol Council.
Bush has received a letter about the case from more than 50 Congress members, and Grassfire.org has an online petition calling on the president to pardon the agents.
Rohrabacher told WND last month he considers the case “the greatest miscarriage of justice that I’ve seen in my career.”
“Two brave Border Patrol agents trying to enforce the president’s nonsensical border policy ending up being sent to prison, while an illegal alien drug smuggler is given immunity and walks free,” he said.
As WND has reported, a federal jury convicted Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, in March after a two-week trial on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.
Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.
On Feb. 17, 2005, Ramos responded to a request for back-up from Compean, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso. A third agent also joined the pursuit.
Fleeing was an illegal alien, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila of Mexico. Unknown to the growing number of Border Patrol agents converging on Fabens, Aldrete-Davila’s van was carrying 800 pounds of marijuana.
Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on a levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler’s attempt to get back to Mexico.
“We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop, and he just kept running,” Ramos told California’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
“At some point during the time where I’m crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired,” Ramos said. “Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler.”
At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.
“I shot,” Ramos said. “But I didn’t think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn’t look like he had been hit at all.”
The U.S. government filed charges against Ramos and Compean after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas issued a statement in September arguing “the defendants were prosecuted because they had fired their weapons at a man who had attempted to surrender by holding his open hands in the air, at which time Agent Compean attempted to hit the man with the butt of Compean’s shotgun, causing the man to run in fear of what the agents would do to him next.”
The statement said, “Although both agents saw that the man was not armed, the agents fired at least 15 rounds at him while he was running away from them, hitting him once.”
Ramirez of Friends of the Border Patrol said the drug smuggler has “fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you.”