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The father-in-law of imprisoned Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos is calling on the Justice Department to release documents that indicate prosecutors misled the jury and public about the drug smuggler granted immunity to testify against Ramos and co-officer Jose Compean.
“There must be a reason why the government does not want the documents released,” Joe Loya told WND. “The only person the Justice Department is protecting is U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.”
Loya said the investigative reports by the Drug Enforcement Agency – referenced in a news conference Wednesday by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. – are essential to the current appeal of the convictions of Ramos, 37, and Compean, 28, who began serving 11- and 12-year prison sentences last month.
As WND reported, a federal jury convicted the agents one year ago, 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.
The DEA documents, first reported Tuesday by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin of Southern California, show drug smuggler Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila tried to take another load of marijuana across the border after he was given immunity by Sutton to testify at the Ramos-Compean trial.
Earlier, WND reported a Nov. 21, 2005, memo by the Department of Homeland Security that documented the second drug offense.
After repeated calls from WND, the Department of Justice declined to comment on this story.
Rohrabacher did not release the documents – the DOJ called his office early Wednesday to make sure no material that is part of an ongoing investigation be unsealed. But he held up a redacted copy to reporters and asserted the information is extremely damaging to the prosecutor’s case.
“Upon review of these documents, it is obvious that U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton knowingly presented a false picture of the drug smuggler in order to justify his ruthless prosecution of Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean,” Rohrabacher said.
The congressman said that under Sutton’s direction, “the prosecution characterized the drug smuggler in this case as an innocent victim, which is clearly not true. Evidence now emerging indicates that Sutton’s office was notified by the DEA of Davila’s direct involvement in a second offense. Sutton chose to disregard the information despite the evidence presented by the DEA.”
Both the DHS and DEA documents reveal that in October 2005, the smuggler, Aldrete-Davila, drove a second load of 750 pounds of marijuana across the border in a 1990 Chevy Astro van. He stopped at the home of Cipriano Ortiz-Hernandez in Clint, Texas, because his van had engine problems and Ortiz-Hernandez was a mechanic who also ran a drug safe house. The two men were connected through family friendships that date back to their childhood in San Ysidro, Mexico.
Those in possession of the DEA and DHS documents refuse to make them public for fear of being prosecuted, but the Ramos-Compean trial transcript, not released until some 11 months after the trial ended, openly refers to the second drug offense.
The transcript also makes it clear the prosecution had the records of Aldrete-Davila’s second drug offense sealed from the jury and from the public.
As WND reported, the evidence in the trial transcript begins at Part VII, page 32, in a discussion without the jury between defense attorney Mary Stillinger, prosecutor Debra Kanof and Judge Kathleen Cardone.
Stillinger discusses, as a matter of fact, Aldrete-Davila’s second offense, commenting, “For instance, let’s just start with – not the October load, let’s start with this load.”
The defense attorney charged Aldrete-Davila lied when he described himself under oath as a drug amateur who only agreed to drive the drugs to a U.S. stash house because of his indigent state:
But [Aldrete-Davila] told [the jury] the story about he’s a little mule, and he needed money for his mother’s doctor bills, and he needed money to renew his commercial driver’s license. He doesn’t know who hired him. He doesn’t know where the stash house.
Stillinger then argued Aldrete-Davila’s second offense revealed he was an experienced drug smuggler:
In light of the fact that [Aldrete-Davila] did it again in October, and he personally took the load to the stash house, I think [the prosecutors] know that that’s a lie.
At the press conference, Rohrabacher claimed the DEA investigative reports he now possesses go to the heart of the case, proving Sutton allowed Aldrete-Davila to testify under oath in the Ramos-Compean case, even though Sutton knew the smuggler was lying about material facts.
Rohrabacher characterized Sutton’s denials of the second drug offense as “word games by an unscrupulous lawyer who now is representing the United States government in just savaging Ramos and Compean who as far as we can see are honest, hard working Border Patrol agents who have just been dealt a one of the great miscarriages of justice.”
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