Monica Ramos embraces her husband, former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy El Paso Times)
Funds for donations have been set up on behalf of the families of two Border Patrol agents jailed for their actions in the shooting and wounding of a Mexican drug smuggler who was granted full immunity to testify against them.
The funds are meant to benefit agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos, who were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years, respectively, in October and reported to prison Jan. 17.
Supporters of the men believe they were wrongly convicted and the sentences handed down far too stiff. Calls from members of Congress and countless Americans for President Bush to pardon the two former agents thus far have been unsuccessful. While efforts continue, supporters of the two men have established funds for people to help their families while they are incarcerated as well as to help pay legal bills.
A labor union, the National Border Patrol Council, is soliciting donations on its website.
“All donations that are designated for Agents Ramos and Compean will be used to fund their legal defense and assist their families in their hour of need,” the site states.
“Donations to the fund can be made by check payable to ‘BPA Legal Defense & Relief Fund.’ Checks should be mailed to: BPA Legal Defense & Relief Fund, P.O. Box 47208, Tampa, FL 33647.”
A separate website run by Ramos’ family also seeks donations from supporters.
A statement on the site says: “The Ramos family has been burdened for 19 months without Nacho’s pay. Nacho has a wife three young children. They have to sell their house after spending their life savings on the court case. His father-in-law, Joe, has also spent his retirement at age 64 on the case. Please donate – and it goes 100 percent directly to the family account.”
Near the bottom of the page is a link to donate via Paypal and contact information for Joe Loya, Ramos’ father-in-law.
Compean’s family does not have a comparable website or donation drive. However, Friends of the Border Patrol, a nonprofit organization, is collecting funds for Compean’s family and legal expenses.
“We’ve started a fund, of which money donated goes specifically to assist the Compean family who was devastated by this malicious prosecution and lost their home, furniture, and so much more,” the site states. “Though never asking for anything, they are appreciative of everyone’s generosity and support. In this way, you can directly help a family who needs it most but is far too humble to ask.”
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.
According to the agents, Ramos responded Feb. 17, 2005, 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.
Illegal-alien drug smuggler Osbaldo 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.”