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Homeland Security memos contradict U.S. attorney

In the high-profile case of two U.S. Border Patrol officers imprisoned after shooting and wounding a Mexican drug smuggler, two Department of Homeland Security documents apparently contradict the version of events put forth by the U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted the case.

The internal Department of Homeland Security memoranda – which have been denied Congress despite repeated requests by two House members – show that within one month of the shooting incident involving Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, government investigators had identified the smuggler as Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila.

But this seems to contradict U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s claim that Aldrete-Davila came forward through a Mexican lawyer who offered to identify his client in exchange for immunity.

A March 14, 2005, memo notes that Aldrete-Davila’s mother had contacted the mother-in-law of a U.S. Border Patrol agent to talk about the shooting and a memo from four months later talks about an interview with that Border Patrol agent. Also, the immunity agreement offered to Aldrete-Davila promises no prosecution against him will result from his testimony and reveals that it was signed on March 15, 2005.

Andy Ramirez, chairman of Friends of the Border Patrol, says the documents raise questions as to why Sutton chose to prosecute the Border Patrol agents rather than the drug smuggler.

Sutton defended his prosecution in an interview with WND.

He said he had no choice. “You have to understand that we could not turn our backs on this,” he told WND. “Two Border Patrol officers shot 15 times at an unarmed man who was running away and posed no real threat.” The Bush administration continues to argue on background that Ramos and Compean lied to Border Patrol officials and covered up evidence, asserting the drug smuggler was not armed and had attempted to surrender peacefully.

The documents further reveal Aldrete-Davila and his Mexican drug associates wanted to organize a “hunting party” to kill Border Patrol agents in retaliation for his being shot. The revelation raises the possibility Aldrete-Davila violated the terms of his immunity by concealing material information from the prosecutor and the jury at trial.

The documents – two of a number sought by Republican Reps. Michael McCaul and Ted Poe of Texas through a Freedom of Information Act request – corroborate the account previously given to WND by Ramirez.

“Johnny Sutton should be tried for malicious prosecution of agents Ramos and Compean,” Ramirez insisted to WND in response to the documents. “These documents prove Sutton could have gone after Aldrete-Davila. Now it’s clear that Sutton was out to get these agents, even if it meant accepting the lying word of an admitted Mexican drug smuggler to do so.”

The first memo was signed by DHS special agent Christopher Sanchez March 14, 2005, about one month after the Feb. 17, 2005 incident in which Ramos and Compean fired on Aldrete-Davila as he abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana. Aldrete-Davila had abandoned the van and was fleeing on foot, running toward the Rio Grande, when the two agents fired, believing they had seen him point a weapon back at them while they were in pursuit.

The memo reports that on March 10, 2005, at approximately 11:45 p.m., Border Patrol agent Rene Sanchez of the Wilcox Border Patrol in Arizona telephoned Special Agent Christopher Sanchez of the DHS Office of Inspector General in El Paso.

According to the memo, Rene Sanchez reported the following:

Rene Sanchez stated that Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila’s mother, Marcadia Aldrete-Davila, contacted Rene Sanchez’s mother-in-law, Gregoria Toquinto, and advised her about the Border Patrol Agent(s) shooting Aldrete-Davila. Toquinto told her son-in-law Rene Sanchez of the incident and he spoke to Osbaldo via a telephone call.

During the phone call, Aldrete-Davila gave Border Patrol Agent Rene Sanchez his version of the events of Feb. 17, 2005.

Osbaldo told Rene Sanchez that he was attempting to return to Mexico after a BP (Border Patrol) Agent caught him entering the United States illegally. Osbaldo told Rene Sanchez that the BP Agent that stopped him was a Hispanic male and that Osbaldo believed he could identify him because he would not forget the face of the BP Agent that shot at him and called him Mexicano mierda, which means “Mexican [S–t].” Osbaldo told Rene Sanchez that he heard five or six gunshots before he eventually was hit in the groin. Osbaldo told Rene Sanchez that he was shot on the United States side of the Rio Grande river.

Next, the DHS memo describes Aldrete-Davila’s thoughts about going to the Mexican Consulate to report that he had been shot, a plan Aldrete-Davila rejected.

Rene Sanchez said that his mother-in-law Gregoria Toquinto went to Mexico to help her friend Marcadia take her son Osbaldo to the Mexican consulate to report the shooting incident. However, Osbaldo declined to go. Marcadia advised Toquinto that Osbaldo did not want to report the incident because he had actually been transporting a load of marijuana and was afraid the Mexican and/or U.S. authorities would put him in jail.

The memo next clearly reports on a revenge “hunting party” that Aldrete-Davila was contemplating:

Osbaldo had told Rene Sanchez that his friends had told him that they should put together a hunting party and go shoot some BP Agents in revenge for them shooting Osbaldo. Osbaldo advised Rene Sanchez that he told his friends that he was not interested in going after the BP Agents and getting in more trouble. Rene Sanchez stated that he believed the “friends” were most likely members of the drug trafficking organization that lost the load of marijuana Osbaldo was transporting.

The memo also confirms Rene Sanchez queried the Border Patrol Tracking System and found that the Border Patrol Station in Fabens, Texas, had seized a load of marijuana Feb.15, 2005. This information should have been sufficient to link Aldrete-Davila to the incident involving Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean.

A second DHS internal memo, dated July 18, 2005, a copy of which was also obtained by WND, indicates that an investigation was initiated on March 4, 2005, “upon receipt of information from the Office of Internal Audit (OIA), United States Border Patrol (BP), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), El Paso, Texas, alleging that Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, a Mexican national, was shot by an unknown BP Agent while attempting to cross into the United States on February 17, 2005 near San Elizario, Texas, Aldrete-Davila advised that he fled back to Mexico where his wound was treated at a local hospital but the bullet was left in Aldrete-Davila’s body.”

The second DHS memo further reveals that on July 11, 2005, the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), El Paso Field Office, spoke to Rene Sanchez concerning a telephone call Sanchez had made to Border Patrol Agent Nolan Blanchette, who was then temporarily assigned to the Fabens Border Patrol station.

The memo describes the telephone call:

Sanchez stated that he called Blanchette one or two days after he spoke to DHS OIG on March 5, 2005. Sanchez said he asked Blanchette if he knew anything about a shooting that occurred on February 17, 2005 involving a van loaded with dope in which Border Patrol agents shot at the driver. Sanchez said Blanchette told him he knew nothing about that shooting.

The phone call affirms that by March 5, 2005, Sanchez had tied together the information from Aldrete-Davila in Mexico and the data he had obtained from querying the Border Patrol Tracking System, information which led to an investigation being opened by DHS on March 4, 2005, according to the memo.

These memos contain no mention that Aldrete-Davila had retained any Mexican legal counsel or that any Mexican legal counsel contacted any U.S. government office offering to produce the perpetrator client in exchange for immunity to testify at trial.

WND also has obtained a copy of the letter of limited-use immunity offered to and accepted by Aldrete-Davila March 16, 2005, some 12 days after DHS opened an investigation into him. The immunity letter is signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Brandy Gardes in the El Paso office of U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.

The second paragraph of the immunity letter specifies Aldrete-Davila agreed “to testify truthfully and completely at any Grand Jury hearing, court hearing, and/or trial when called by the Government as a witness. The third paragraph specifies Aldrete-Davila “must neither attempt to protect any person or entity, nor falsely implicate any person or entity.”

Since the “hunting party” revenge plan was not disclosed to the Ramos-Compean jury, apparently either material facts were hidden from the jury or Aldrete-Davila violated the terms of his immunity grant by lying about his involvement in the case and concealing the identity of the “hunting party” members.

As far as WND can determine, the “hunting party” has never been reported by Sutton’s office so U.S. law enforcement can undertake an investigation and possible prosecution.

Reliable sources also say that at trial, Aldrete-Davila claimed he did not have enough money to have the bullet removed in Mexico. The doctor’s note from Mexico he provided at trial had no letterhead, official stamp, doctor’s name or license to identify the physician and validate the information.

WND can find no indication U.S. government officials have any investigation currently on-going in Mexico or in the U.S. concerning Aldrete-Davila or any information regarding the identity of the person or persons Ramos and Compean observed waiting for Aldrete-Davila in a van on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande River. The two agents reported Aldrete-Davila fled into the van, and the group sped away from the scene into Mexico.

Andy Ramirez also accuses Aldrete-Davila of committing perjury during the Ramos-Compean case.

“If we could get the trial transcripts,” he told WND, “you would see material differences between these DHS investigative reports and the version of events Aldrete-Davila told the jury under oath.”

As WND previously has reported, nearly two years after the conclusion of the trial, the transcript of the Ramos-Compean trial has yet to be produced by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Judge Kathleen Cardone’s office has refused to answer WND questions regarding when the transcript might become available.

Ramirez says the documents validated the version of events he had given WND.

“These memos make it clear that Rene Sanchez figured out his lifelong friend Aldrete-Davila was the culprit,” Ramirez said. “That information should have been enough for Sutton to have gone after the drug smuggler prosecution, if Sutton had wanted to do so.”

“To cover his tracks,” Ramirez asserted, “Sutton has continued lying, even now, after Ramos and Compean are in federal prison. Sutton has made up the whole story about a Mexican attorney calling the prosecutors to offer up the perpetrator in exchange for immunity. It never happened. What Sutton doesn’t want to admit is that he never had any intention of prosecuting the drug smuggler once he realized he could get his hands on the drug smuggler to testify against Ramos and Compean.”

WND asked Ramirez if he knew he was making a serious charge, in that malicious prosecution is a felony.

“I’m fully aware of that,” Ramirez affirmed. “I also realize that I am making a serious charge against DHS. I believe DHS is still engaged in a criminal cover-up of material facts in the Ramos-Compean case. These documents are proof that materially relevant investigative reports were not made available to the jury and are not now being made available either to Congress or the U.S. public.”

Ramirez also explained to WND that Rene Sanchez was the person who advised Aldrete-Davila he should seek immunity in exchange for his testimony.

Ramirez further identifies Rene Sanchez as the person who put Aldrete-Davila in touch with U.S. Attorney Walter Boyaki to represent Aldrete-Davila in what reportedly has become a $5 million lawsuit by the drug smuggler against the Border Patrol for allegedly violating his civil rights.

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