Two congressmen are calling for the immediate release of imprisoned Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean and a complete investigation of their prosecutor after the arrest last night of the drug smuggler at the center of the case.
Reps. Ted Poe, R-Texas, and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., say that with the arrest of Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, Congress and the attorney general should launch a full-scale review of U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s prosecution of the border agents.
DEA officers take Osvaldo Aldrete Davila to federal court this morning in El Paso (Courtesy El Paso Times)
Sutton, said Rohrabacher in a statement, “is now confirming what members of Congress and the public already figured out about Osvaldo Davila. He’s a rotten habitual drug smuggler who should have been the target of Sutton’s prosecution, instead of Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean.”
As WND reported, Aldrete-Davila was arrested yesterday at the El Paso border crossing on charges he smuggled a second 750-pound load of marijuana into the U.S. after he was given immunity by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.
It was the first smuggling attempt by Aldrete-Davila, in February 2005, that led to the 11- and 12-year prison sentences of Ramos and Compean. The two agents were convicted by a jury of violating federal gun laws and covering up the shooting of the smuggler as he fled back to Mexico after driving across the border with 742 pounds of marijuana. Sutton’s office gave Aldrete-Davila immunity to serve as the government’s star witness and testify against the border agents
Poe agreed with Rohrabacher, suggesting a special prosecutor might be needed to review the entire case.
“Sutton’s office always claimed that Davila was just a mule bringing one load of drugs across to the United States, to get some money to help his sick mother in Mexico,” Poe noted to WND. “The prosecutors presented this scenario to the jury in the Ramos and Compean trial. We now know that this is not true. Davila is a professional drug smuggler.”
At the time of the trial, Poe pointed out, “the jury should have known, as did the U.S. Attorney’s office, that while Davila had been given immunity and was running loose waiting to testify, he brought in a second load of drugs to the United States.”
A statement by Sutton published on the Department of Justice website confirms Aldrete-Davila was arrested yesterday by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security at the Ysleta Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas. A sealed indictment charged him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in September and October 2005.
Both dates are prior to the Ramos and Compean trial.
The October 2005 date coincides with previous reports that Aldrete-Davila’s attempted a second load Oct. 23, 2005, while under immunity from Sutton’s office and possessed a border pass card issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
The indictment’s mention of a September date suggests Davila was involved in multiple drug smuggling incidents after the Feb. 17, 2005, event with Ramos and Compean and before the trial began Oct. 12, 2006.
Commenting on the statement published by Sutton today, Rohrabacher said: “Sutton has not only confirmed Davila’s infamous October drug run but has now revealed evidence of several other smuggling incidents all of which took place while drug smuggler Davila was under full protection of the U.S. government.”
Poe also believes Sutton’s office withheld information from the jury to protect his case against the Border Patrol agents.
“The U.S. attorney relentlessly kept from the jury this information about Davila’s subsequent drug events,” Poe emphasized, “even convincing the judge at the Ramos and Compean trial to seal the information, because the information would hurt Davila’s credibility as a witness.”
Poe said the “whole case was on this golden-star drug dealer who was a deal by the U.S. attorney’s office.”
“Given my background and experience as a prosecutor and judge, my conclusion is that when prosecutors make deals with criminals they usually get the testimony they want,” he said.
“In this case Davila told the jury he didn’t have a weapon,” Poe continued. “That was one of the cruxes of the case, because Ramos and Compean believed Davila had a weapon. The jury should have known that Davila is not believable, because he is a drug smuggler.”
The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans is scheduled to hear the appeal in the Ramos and Compean case Dec. 3.
Rohrabacher commented on the timing of Davila’s arrest.
“If Mr. Sutton thinks he’s going to escape culpability for this miscarriage of justice by conveniently arresting the drug dealer two and a half weeks before the Ramos and Compean appeal is heard, he is sadly mistaken,” the congressman said.
“Mr. Sutton turned a deaf ear to pleas from the Ramos and Compean families,” he continued. “Instead, he only heard lies of the drug smuggler portraying him as an innocent man who had given into the temptation of drug smuggling only once, in order to buy medicine for his mother.”
Rohrabacher insisted the bottom line is Sutton “believed it was more important to protect the civil rights of an admitted illegal alien drug smuggler than to side with the law enforcement heroes who attempted to stop him.”
The California Republican said that while Sutton “was rolling out the red carpet for a drug smuggler, Davila was rolling millions of dollars worth of drugs back and forth across the border with free passes, courtesy of the U.S. government.”
Rohrabacher said it’s “clear that Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean have been collateral damage in Johnny Sutton’s personal crusade to protect President Bush’s failed border policy with Mexico.”
“If this new information isn’t grounds for a full scale review by the new Attorney General and Senate Judiciary Committee, I don’t know what is,” Rohrabacher concluded.
Poe agreed, saying Congress “should review the entire file on Davila” from the U.S. attorney’s office, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
“Maybe even a special prosecutor needs to come in and review the whole situation,” he said.
“We can’t forget that a year ago members of Congress met with Department of Homeland Security and DHS told us things that just weren’t true,” Poe recalled. “We still want to know what’s going to happen to those people in the DHS office of inspector general that misled Congress a year ago on the facts of this case and the background of Davila. Some of the allegations DHS made in that meeting about Ramos and Compean that turned out not to be correct.”
Poe was referring to claims by members of DHS Inspector General Richard L. Skinner’s office that it had documentary evidence Ramos and Compean confessed to knowingly shooting at an unarmed suspect and said they “wanted to shoot a Mexican” that day.
“Sutton chose the wrong side of the border war,” Poe asserted. “Now Ramos and Compean are in jail based on what we now know is the testimony of a professional drug smuggler.”
Ramos and Compean should be released, Poe insisted, saying they “have done enough time in solitary confinement on this case already and the rest of their sentence should be commuted.”
“The truth finally comes out,” he said. “Davila was a drug smuggler, and he always has been a drug smuggler. Even the U.S. attorney’s office can’t hide that fact anymore.”
Poe said that if the case reversed because of several legal issues, the U.S. attorney’s office “won’t have a case to retry because their star golden witness will be serving time in a federal penitentiary where he should have been some time ago.”