Jesus Diaz Jr.
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is wondering just when Attorney General Eric Holder will get around to answering his questions about the prosecution of a U.S. Border Patrol agent for “improperly restraining a 15-year-old drug smuggler.”
At least, that’s the question he asked in a new letter today to Holder addressing the dispute over the prosecution of Agent Jesus E. Diaz Jr. for lifting the smuggler’s arms to force him to comply with orders when he was arrested.
“I am still awaiting your response as to why the Justice Department would actively pursue such a case against a U.S. Border Patrol Agent,” Hunter wrote. “However, it was more recently brought to my attention that the Justice Department is now requiring Agent Diaz and his family to pay a fine in the amount of $6,870, due ‘immediately.’
“I ask that you take immediate action to waive any fine imposed on Agent Diaz and his family. If this is not something you are willing to do, I hope that you will at least give consideration to delaying payment pending the outcome of Agent Diaz’s appeal.”
WND reported just one day earlier that the federal government has sent a collection notice to Diaz’ family, warning that the fine was due immediately, and that if it wasn’t taken care of, the government could withhold any federal payments to meet the demand.
Andy Ramirez, president of the Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council, which is working on Diaz’ case, said, “We are very appreciative of Congressman Hunter’s continued leadership and efforts on this case to ensure justice for Agent Diaz and his family.”
He said the fine is “questionable” given the circumstances of the case, which includes “endless perjurious testimony on the part of the government’s ‘star witnesses’ as the official trial transcripts clearly showed and given that this case was cleared by [two internal investigations].”
Hunter’s letter pointed out that Diaz had been cleared in both of those first two investigations before the Mexican government stepped in and demanded a punishment, which then was handled in the federal court system.
“Yet a third review, reportedly initiated at the request of the Mexican government, remains the basis for the conviction,” Hunter wrote.
He said the “contradictory reports and the overall lack of clarity on the Justice Department’s case, including the decision to give the drug smuggler full immunity and other benefits” remain problematic.
Hunter also noted that the judge “indicated that the process for payment of any fines imposed … would begin one month after his release from federal prison. Assuming this is accurate, additional clarification is needed from either your office or the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.”
Hunter warned, “The prosecution of Agent Diaz sets a dangerous precedent and creates unnecessary confusion among law enforcement on the border. We must not send a message to the men and woman of the U.S. Border Patrol, as well as the smugglers and criminals that they are committed to apprehending, that they could face jail time or such disproportionate sentencing for doing their jobs, regardless of the facts.”
Ramirez confirmed to WND that his group has begun fundraising efforts for the Diaz family, but he is alarmed that the government would not consider the evidence that suggests the Diaz case was a “miscarriage” of justice.
“It is outrageous that the government, having already prosecuted and convicted an innocent agent of the U.S. Border Patrol, continues to persecute this family in the form of these imposed fines. We do understand that this is a common practice given successful prosecutions. However, this case was a miscarriage of justice as the transcripts and ‘discovery’ demonstrated to our organization, which was why we accepted their request for assistance in the first place,” Ramirez said.
“We call on the American people to assist us with this effort so that the persecution of the Diaz family ends. What is the next form of persecution, a suit by ‘MBE’ the narco-terrorist whose criminal acts were granted immunity from prosecution, while his perjury was ignored by the Justice Department and district court in the Western District of Texas? The persecution of an innocent agent and his family must cease immediately,” he said.
WND previously reported that Diaz was sentenced to 24 months in jail for grabbing the arms of the drug smuggler and lifting them to make him comply with orders. According to the FreeAgentDiaz.com website, Diaz was “maliciously prosecuted at the request of the Mexican consul in Eagle Pass, Texas.”
The legal case against the officer was “solely motivated by politics and is yet another example of prosecutorial abuse and misconduct while protecting Mexico’s narco-terror influences,” organizers of the website said.
The prosecution was conducted after the juvenile suspect, who reportedly was caught with some 75 pounds of drugs he had smuggled into the U.S., was given immunity by the U.S. government.
The sentence was announced by U.S. District Judge Alia Moses Ludlum in San Antonio.
Ramirez, whose organization’s activities include raising funds for defense counsel for an appeal, told WND, “We do not hold hope that President Barack H. Obama will do the proper and appropriate thing by issuing presidential pardon of agent Diaz given his administration’s zeal in pushing amnesty for illegal aliens via ordering our agencies to cease deportation and removal of illegal aliens and ignoring the laws long set by the Congress.”
He cited “misconduct” known as Operation Fast and Furious, which resulted in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Ramirez said the prosecution of Diaz “is all about sending a message to law enforcement, ‘thou shalt not do thy job and protect America’s borders, coastlines, ports of entry, waterways, or transit hubs, as well as citizens and resident aliens, for to do so is to risk the wrath of the Mexican government and be served up as a scalp for prosecution.’”
Ramirez contended the federal case against Diaz is based on “lies and misrepresentation of the facts.”
The facts, he said, are in the record of the court proceedings. One “star witness” “changed his story so many times, including with the field agents, at the Eagle Pass-South BP station, to the Mexican consulate, to the investigators, grand jury and at trial … that he has zero credibility.”
Border watchers will remember the extended battle fought by Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean after they were prosecuted, convicted and jailed, again at the request of the Mexican government, for shooting at and striking a drug smuggler who reportedly dropped a load in the U.S. and was fleeing back to Mexico.
Their punishments ultimately were commuted by President George W. Bush, although they did not receive pardons, leaving their convictions on their records.
The wife of Agent Diaz, Diana, also an employee of the Border Patrol, told WND in an interview that the maneuver used by her husband in the incident in 2009 was one that agents are trained to do.
“It was what we were taught at the academy,” she said.
She said the couple at first thought the case was simply a mistake and Jesus Diaz soon would be cleared and back to work. However, a first trial, which was declared a mistrial because the judge ordered jurors not to take notes on the various stories they were told, and one did, enlightened both Jesus and Diana Diaz, she said.
She said there was manipulation of testimony, evidence and even jury instructions.
They realized then that “this was going south,” she told WND.
She cited some of the same concerns as LEOAC: conflicting testimony from the same witnesses at different times; changed testimonies, testimonies that contradicted reality (how could someone at a distance see what was going on at 2 a.m. without lights?) and the like.
Diaz previously had been cleared by the Office of Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility.
She noted her husband even refused to “apologize” to the drug smuggler when ordered by the judge, because he hadn’t done anything wrong.
She said there was no logical or reasonable reason for such an intensive prosecution.
“There was nothing there. If he had broken his [the smuggler's] skin, or a bone, if there was blood. But there was nothing wrong with him,” she said. “Just markings on his shoulders from the drugs [carried in a backpack].”
Diana Diaz said her suspicion is that there was some high-level favor trading going on between the U.S. and Mexican governments.
Ramos and Compean were convicted of various charges that stemmed from firing their service weapons at a fleeing drug smuggler, and they were given prison terms
of more than a decade.
Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean
Their original case stemmed from the Feb. 17, 2005, shooting of Oswaldo Aldrete-Davila. The two officers said they thought Aldrete-Davila was armed and made a threatening move.
WND was among the first to report Aldrete-Davila then committed a second drug offense, smuggling a second load of 750 pounds of marijuana across the border while he was under the protection of immunity from federal prosecutor Johnny Sutton’s office and in possession of a border-pass card authorized by the Department of Homeland Security.
WND also reported when Aldrete-Davila admitted to federal drug smuggling charges, was convicted and sentenced to federal prison for a 57 months.
In a commentary on WND, former Congressman Tom Tancredo explained how Diaz “mistreated” the suspect.
“The man was handcuffed, and allegedly, Diaz lifted his handcuffs to force him to the ground because he was not cooperative” he wrote. “These two Border Patrol prosecutions have more in common than the eternal vigilance of Johnny Sutton. In these cases and many others, the U.S. attorney’s office was responding to protests from the Mexican government that its citizens were being mistreated by Border Patrol agents.
“Why do we see this acute sensitivity to the wishes and interests of the corrupt government of Mexico in matters of U.S. criminal law and U.S. border security? This is almost laughable, but to the 20,400 officers of the Border Patrol, it is more than a nuisance. It is a threat held over their heads daily,” Tancredo said.
Aldrete-Davila was granted immunity for his drug smuggling by federal prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against the agents. He had crossed the Rio Grande and picked up a marijuana-loaded vehicle near El Paso. After a car chase in which he fled from the officers, he abandoned the vehicle and ran back across the border on foot. He was shot in the buttocks as he ran.