The Department of Justice has confirmed imprisoned former Border Patrol agent Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos – sentenced to 11 years in the shooting of a drug smuggler – was treated for injuries after reporting he was beaten in a medium-security facility in Mississippi.
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)
WND received a statement issued by the agency citing Charles Smith, spokesman for the Federal Correctional Complex in Yazoo City, Miss.
Smith said that at about 10:15 p.m. Saturday, Ramos “reported to staff that he had been assaulted.”
“Mr. Ramos was evaluated by medical staff at the institution who determined he had sustained some bruises and abrasions. The injuries sustained were minor in nature.”
However, Ramos’ wife and father-in-law told WND the former agent said in phone calls to them the assailants “got me pretty good,” explaining he was assaulted by five Hispanic men with steel-toed boots – likely illegal aliens – who cussed him out in Spanish.
“They kicked me in the head, they kicked me all over the body. I’m all bruised and very sore,” Ramos reportedly said, adding he bled from his left ear.
Ramos, Smith said, then “was placed in the Special Housing Unit pending a thorough investigation of the incident. He will remain in the Special Housing Unit until the conclusion of this investigation. No further information is available at this time.”
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, told WND he received verbal confirmation from the Bureau of Prisons that Ramos was assaulted and sent to the infirmary.
Poe was among a number of lawmakers and others close to the case who expressed concerned for the safety of Ramos and fellow agent Jose Compean if they were placed among the general prison population.
Unfortunately, this is not a surprise,” Poe told WND. “The federal government doesn’t do any better job of protecting border agents in jail than it does protecting them on the border.”
Poe said the bureau is drafting a report on the incident, and he has requested a copy.
In a phone call from prison, Ramos told his wife yesterday the assailants allegedly threatened him in Spanish, taunting him with, “**** la migra.” “Migra” roughly translates as “immigration,” slang for Border Patrol agent.
Ramos had been moved to the medium-security facility about 10 days ago. He and Compean began prison sentences last month, of 11 and 12 years respectively, for their actions in the shooting and wounding of a Mexican drug smuggler who was granted full immunity to testify against them. The case has caused national outrage, and dozens of congressmen are publicly insisting President Bush grant an immediate pardon of the two law enforcement officers.
Ramos’ family believes the decision to place him in a medium-security prison violates a promise from federal authorities that he would be kept in isolation at a minimal-security prison.
At Yazoo, Ramos was housed with the general prison population. A medium-security prison such as Yazoo would be expected to house illegal immigrants, including those incarcerated on drug offenses.
The prison attack came immediately after the airing Saturday night of a segment on Ramos and Compean by the “America’s Most Wanted” television show.
“On Saturday night my husband said he went to bed,” Monica Ramos told WND late today.
She recounted the telephone call from her husband in prison earlier in the day: “He just told me that he dropped his guard. ‘They got me,’ Nacio told me, ‘they got me pretty good.'”
“‘What happened?'” Monica Ramos said she asked her husband. “He told me they were in the television room watching ‘America’s Most Wanted.’ After that, some time after 10 p.m., he went back to his cubicle and was almost falling asleep. He awoke to the sound of shoes stomping. It startled him because at night the prisoners are supposed to take their shoes off and put flip-flops on.”
She continued: “He said he didn’t have a chance to turn around and look at any of the guys attacking him at that time. He just felt a blow to the back of his head. The prisoners were kicking him with steel-toe shoes, the work boots they are issued in prison. They kept kicking and kicking. And they kept calling him in Spanish a **** immigration officer, saying ‘darle, darle,’ which means, ‘give it to him.’ They were cussing him out in Spanish. He couldn’t fight back, he was outnumbered.”
According to Loya, Ramos also said of the attack: “They kicked me in the head, they kicked me all over the body. I’m all bruised and very sore.”
How did the attack stop?
“No security came to his rescue,” the jailed Border Patrol agent’s wife told WND. “Another inmate came and got him and said ‘Hey, dude, let me help you up.’ The other inmate walked my husband over to security.”
Did the prison give him any medical treatment?
“As of the time we talked this afternoon, the prison still hadn’t given him any medical treatment,” she said, adding that he told her, “‘I asked all day yesterday.’ I’m in a lot of pain and I have blood coming out of my left ear.’
“His head and his back are hurting him badly. He said it was almost time for the prison doctor to go for the day and he wasn’t sure when any doctor would be able to see him.”
Ramos told his wife he was able to identify only one of the five assailants.
“They all cursed me in Spanish,” he said, according to Loya. “As they were beating me up and kicking me, they kept calling me ‘migra,’ ‘migra.’ I’m pretty sure they were all illegal immigrants.”
Ramos told his wife that he was badly bruised and bleeding from the ears. He said that immediately after the attack, he was placed back into solitary confinement, where he has been for the last two days.
“He told me that he asked to call me Sunday, after the attack,” Monica Ramos continued, “but the prison wouldn’t let him call me and they wouldn’t let him call his attorney. He said the only reason the prison was letting him call now, on Monday, was because the Congress intervened, otherwise he wouldn’t have been permitted any calls at all.”
Patti Compean, wife of imprisoned agent Jose Compean, told WND her husband was in a different prison, still in solitary confinement.
Today is Ramos’ 38th birthday. According to Loya, Ramos’ three sons, aged 7, 9 and 13, woke up crying, not wanting to go to school. The children wanted to buy a cake and wait for their father to call so they could sing “Happy Birthday” to him on the phone and blow out the candles.
Early this morning, Loya began working with the office of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R.-Calif., to see if the warden would give Ramos special permission to call home on his birthday, after his children got home from school.
However, the birthday call didn’t happen, Monica Ramos told WND.
“We went out and bought a cake,” she said. “The kids came home expecting their dad to call from prison so they could wish him a happy birthday. But there isn’t going to be any call. My 7-year-old, when he woke up this morning, the first thing he asked was if we could still celebrate today. I told him, ‘Sure we can, baby,’ and he’s been looking forward to it all day.”
However, Monica added, in tears: “He told me, ‘They’re not going to let me call later today.’ He said the call in the afternoon only happened because Congress allowed it to happen. He said he doesn’t have any privileges in prison. He hasn’t even gotten the mail that everybody has been sending him. He told me, ‘You really need to get me out of here.’ That’s what he told me last.”