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Down in Gov. Perry’s backyard in west Texas, where they supposedly have the Mexican border under control, another Border Patrol agent has been prosecuted and sentenced to prison for doing his job in arresting drug smugglers. His name is Jesus Diaz, and if you rely on the mainstream media for news of the border region, you have never heard of him.
In October of 2008, Diaz, a seven-year veteran of the Border Patrol, was part of a team of border agents who apprehended a small group of young drug smugglers. They had crossed the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas, carrying backpacks filled with marijuana.
In questioning one of the apprehended smugglers, officer Diaz allegedly tugged or lifted the young man’s handcuffed wrists and caused the smuggler some discomfort. Later that day, while being processed back at the Border Patrol station, the smuggler lodged a complaint with the Mexican consul, which resulted in prosecution of Diaz over a year later by the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas. According to the Mexican government’s written complaint, the man had been “beaten,” yet photos taken at the time showed no bruises, cuts or other signs of abuse.
Now, it is important to interject here a bit of information not routinely shared with the public by our enterprising news reporters. Smugglers caught with less than 75 pounds of marijuana are seldom prosecuted by the local U.S. attorneys in border regions because that “small amount,” which has a street value in Denver of over $300,000, does not meet their “threshold test.” They are simply put back across the border.
The drug cartels know these various “thresholds” and so do the smugglers, so no individual carries more than 50 pounds. The young smuggler in all probability was not facing jail time, only a swift return to Mexico, and he knew it. Nevertheless, he and his Mexican government compatriots pressed charges against agent Diaz for being “roughed up.”
Diaz was cleared of any wrongdoing by two investigations – one by the Border Patrol’s own Office of Professional Responsibility and then a second investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general.
If it had not been for the pressure from the Mexican government, it would have ended there. But apparently, when the Mexican government demands a prosecution in west Texas, you just keep investigating until you get the results you want.
Under that persistent pressure from Mexico, the U.S. attorney convened a grand jury and brought an indictment against Diaz. After the first prosecution ended in a mistrial, Diaz was prosecuted a second time. He was convicted after the government gave immunity to the drug smuggler in exchange for his testimony against Diaz – even though the smuggler admitted in a deposition that he had lied at the first trial.
Earlier this month Diaz was sentenced to 24 months in prison for use of “excessive force” and depriving the smuggler of his civil rights.
Does this scenario sound familiar? We remember two other Border Patrol agents working on the Rio Grande near El Paso, Ignacio Ramous and Jose Compean, who were prosecuted by the U.S. attorney for shooting a drug smuggler. They were sentenced to prison – again under pressure from the Mexican government and again with a grant of immunity for the drug smuggler’s testimony.
By treaty, the nearest consulate of the government of Mexico is notified whenever any Mexican national is arrested for any crime inside the United States. This means that any one of the 300,000-plus Mexican nationals apprehended by the Border Patrol each year can lodge a complaint with his government, and the Mexican government can pursue that complaint through the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Justice.
In 2008 on the Arizona border, officials from a nearby Mexican consulate were notified of a shooting incident and arrived on the scene quickly. They were allowed to question witnesses prior to the arrival of local U.S. law-enforcement investigators. The Border Patrol officer involved in the shooting had been working alone, and the only other witnesses were three other illegal aliens, one of whom was a relative of the victim. The officer had to endure two criminal trials and a civil trial because the three witnesses were coached in their testimony and assisted at trial by Mexican officials.
Mexican newspapers give full coverage to these complaints and continually portray the U.S. Border Patrol as a gang of armed hooligans who regularly beat and mistreat people. Yet, Mexican officials are loathe to admit that migrants crossing the border unlawfully are routinely raped, robbed and often murdered by their fellow citizens, the “coyotes” working for the drug cartels.
Recently Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder protesting the prosecution of Diaz. But predictably enough, we have heard not a word from Gov. Rick Perry, who also remained silent through the trial, sentencing and imprisonment of agents Ramos and Compean. Evidently Gov. Perry’s self-proclaimed devotion to border security does not include standing up for Border Patrol agents who are targeted for retaliation by the Mexican government.
At any given hour of the day, we have fewer than 5,000 Border Patrol agents on patrol on over 6,000 miles of land borders with Mexico and Canada. These brave men and women put their lives on the line daily to protect this country. It’s time we let them do their jobs without having to worry about politically inspired prosecutions encouraged by the Mexican government.