Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (El Paso Times)
Mychal Massie, the chief of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Project 21 and a columnist for WND, is renewing his call to President Bush to pardon two former U.S. Border Patrol agents who were convicted and jailed for shooting at a fleeing drug smuggler.
The call from Massie, whose Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community for nearly two decades, follows a guilty plea from Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, the smuggler in the case involving agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos.
Aldrete-Davila pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in El Paso, Texas, to drug smuggling and is to be sentenced in July.
Compean and Ramos are serving prison terms for shooting at the smuggler while he was running back to Mexico in 2005, Massie’s statement noted. Aldrete-Davila conspired to smuggle marijuana into the U.S. twice after he was granted immunity to testify against the agents.
“It is time to prove that he [Bush] places the welfare of American communities and those men and women who risk their lives to protect them over the welfare of lying illicit drug smugglers,” Massie said. “Pardon Ramos and Compean now, Mr. President!”
The agents are serving terms of 11 years for Ramos and 12 years for Compean.
Aldrete-Davila yesterday pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy to import a controlled substance and conspiracy to distribute. The marijuana he admitted smuggling into the U.S. in 2005 came after he testified against Ramos and Compean under a grant of immunity from U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, who has been described by Bush as a “dear friend.”
“It cannot be overstated that President Bush’s stolid indifference thus far toward the suffering of these brave protectors of our borders and their families, while simultaneously seeking special dispensation for illegal immigrants, is unconscionable,” Massie said. “Now it appears that the burden to be borne by agents Ramos and Compean for unknowingly wounding a now admitted drug criminal as he fled from justice across the border is going to be greater than that to be borne by the criminal himself.
“When the Bush Administration is seeking to protect polar bears from unproven global warming scare-mongering, to not pardon or at least commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean in light of these new-found truths will severely tarnish the Bush legacy,” Massie said.
On Feb. 17, 2005, Ramos and Compean pursued Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila on foot after Aldrete-Davila abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $1 million. During the chase, Ramos shot at Aldrete-Davila in the belief that Aldrete-Davila had drawn a gun of his own. Aldrete-Davila escaped across the U.S.-Mexico border, and Ramos assumed Aldrete-Davila was unhurt. In fact, Aldrete-Davila had been shot in the buttock.
Sutton later charged that Ramos and Compean violated Border Patrol policy by pursuing Aldrete-Davila without supervisor approval, moving spent shell casings and improperly reporting the fired shots. Aldrete-Davila was granted immunity to testify against the agents. Ramos and Compean currently are in solitary confinement in maximum-security prisons.
Their cases are on appeal before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Ramos and Compean convictions have been questioned by many who point out that during the trial, jurors were not told of Aldrete-Davila’s continued drug trafficking, and jurors also were unaware that a fellow agent who testified against Ramos and Compean is a life-long friend of Aldrete-Davila – a violation of Border Patrol policy in itself.
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union, testified before the U.S. Senate that a medical examination of Aldrete-Davila supported the agents’ description of events and complied with Border Patrol and Justice Department policies.