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Border Patrol agents fired for changing testimonies
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 02/10/2007 @ 5:50 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean (KFOX-TV, El Paso, Texas)
Three Border Patrol agents, who were given immunity to testify against fellow agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean in the Feb. 17, 2005, shooting of a drug-smuggling suspect as he fled across the U.S.-Mexico border, are no longer with the agency because they changed their accounts of the incident several times.
Removal documents for the proposed firing of agents David Jaquez and Arturo Vasquez were issued on Jan. 29, the Ontario Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported. A third agent, Oscar Juarez, reportedly resigned from the agency last month shortly before he was to be fired.
Jaquez and Vasquez have signed their termination papers and are officially dismissed as of Feb. 28.
As WND reported, a Department of Homeland Security memo filed April 12, 2005, indicates Jaquez, Vasquez and Juarez were closely linked to the shooting for which Ramos and Compean were prosecuted and sentenced to 11 and 12 years, respectively:
Investigation disclosed that the following BP agents were at the location of the shooting incident, assisted in destroying evidence of the shooting, and/or knew/heard about the shooting: Oscar Juarez; Arturo Vasquez; Jose Mendoza; David Jacquez; Lance Medrano; Lorenzo Yrigoyen; Rene Mendez; Robert Arnold; and Jonathan Richards.
Of the nine listed agents, two were supervisors, Arnold and Richards. Arnold was a supervisory Border Patrol agent and Richards was a field operations supervisor, the senior BP officer on the field that day. Agents Vasquez, Jacquez and Juarez, were given immunity for their testimony by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s office. All three were called as witnesses by the prosecution to testify against Ramos and Compean at trial.
According to the termination documents, obtained by the Daily Bulletin, Vasquez originally confirmed Compean’s claim he had made a radio call asking for backup after a van driven by suspected drug smuggler Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila twice tripped border sensors. In court, however, Vasquez changed his story.
“On March 18, 2005, and on May 11, 2005, you provided different statements to DHS (Office of Inspector General) investigators regarding your knowledge of the February 2005 shooting incident,” Vasquez’s termination document charges.
“Specifically, you said in the March 18, 2005, statement that you heard radio traffic by (Border Patrol Agent) Jose Compean that there was a 10-46 (apprehended narcotics case) in progress in the area. You testified in court on February 24, 2006, and admitted that your March 18, 2005, statement regarding a 10-46 in progress was inaccurate.”
The removal document also says Vasquez told prosecutors Compean described Aldrete-Davila with an expletive after the smuggler threw dirt in his eyes as the two struggled prior to the shooting, even though he did not include that detail in his sworn statement of March 18, 2005.
At trial, Vasquez contradicted the statements of other agents present at the scene when he said he was unable to smell nearly 800 pounds of marijuana when he opened the door to Aldrete-Davila’s abandoned van.
On cross examination, Vasquez explained the discrepancy between his post-incident statement and his testimony by saying he wasn’t sure why he had thought Compean called for backup while pursuing a narcotics suspect, and, according to the Daily Bulletin, failed to directly answer the defense attorney’s question as to why other agents went to assist Compean.
Jaquez’s termination document charges him with discrepancies between statements to investigators and testimony given at trial.
“On April 15, 2005, you provided false statements during your interview with DHS OIG investigators regarding the February 17, 2005, shooting incident,” it read.
“You told DHS OIG that when you asked (Agent) Compean what had happened, he never mentioned the shooting incident to you. On February 27, you testified in court and admitted that you gave two different statements to DHS OIG investigators.”
The DHS memo of April 12, 2005, clearly identifies Jaquez as one of nine agents who “were at the location of the shooting incident, assisted in destroying evidence of the shooting, and/or knew/heard about the shooting.”
A November DHS Report of Incident, released this week, said the nine agents at the scene had been unaware of the shooting.
Andy Ramirez, who has closely followed the case as chairman of the group Friends of the Border Patrol, charged that Sutton gave immunity in exchange for favorable testimony.
“Arturo Vasquez, David Jacquez and Oscar Juarez were given immunity because they were willing to tell the story to the jury that Sutton needed told,” Ramirez told WND. “They all lied. Juarez even contradicted himself on the stand, changing his lies as he went along.
Why were none of the other agents charged with crimes,” Ramirez continued, “when the DHS memo clearly states that others assisted in destroying evidence of the shooting?”
“When you give deals to witnesses like immunity, the government usually gets the testimony (it wants),” Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, told the Daily Bulletin. “This case is a perfect example.”
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