The judge in the high-profile case of two U.S. Border Patrol officers imprisoned after shooting and wounding a Mexican drug smuggler allegedly sealed key testimony and issued gag orders preventing the defendants, their families and trial participants from discussing the smuggler’s involvement in a second drug bust – for which he again was granted immunity in order to testify against the agents.

According to Andy Ramirez, chairman of Friends of the Border Patrol, and reliable sources close to the case, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila was apprehended in an October 2005 drug bust with 1,000 pounds of marijuana. That incident followed the Feb. 17, 2005, confrontation with Ramos and Compean in which Aldrete-Davila drove a van illegally across the Texas border into Mexico with 743 pounds of marijuana. Ramos and Compean were convicted for their actions surrounding the shooting of drug smuggler and sentenced to 11 and 12 years in prison respectively.

Ramirez told WND that Aldrete-Davila had been positively identified in a drug bust just prior to the Ramos-Compean trial, which began Oct. 17, 2005.

“When Johnny Sutton learned that Aldrete-Davila was involved in this second bust, he panicked,” Ramirez said. “If the public learned that Aldrete-Davila came back to the United States a second time with another load of marijuana, Sutton was sure that would blow his case against Ramos and Compean.”

The prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, previously has denied there was a second arrest. But sources say Aldrete-Davila technically was apprehended for the second incident, and not arrested, on condition he testify against Ramos and Compean.

Yesterday, Sutton’s spokeswoman, Shana Jones, declined to answer specifically whether there was a second border incident of any kind involving Aldrete-Davila. She told WND the attorney’s office is standing on its original statement that there was no arrest, no indictment and no prosecutable evidence.

According to reliable sources close to the case, Sutton asked Judge Kathleen Cardone to seal the records involving Aldrete-Davila’s participation in the second drug bust. Subsequently, Aldrete-Davila’s name was expunged from the law enforcement records concerning the October 2005 incident at the request of Sutton’s office.

Cordone’s gag order in the trial covered any discussion by the attorneys or the families of the officers concerning Aldrete-Davila’s second drug bust.

WND was told that Sutton withdrew a Resident Alien Card, commonly known as a “green card,” from Aldrete-Davila after the October 2005 drug bust. The green card originally had been given to Aldrete-Davila as an inducement to return to the U.S. and testify as a star witness against Ramos and Compean under a grant of immunity from prosecution.

WND has learned the witness who identified Aldrete-Davila in the second drug incident was identified as “Toquinto.”

Toquinto is the surname of Border Patrol agent Rene Sanchez’s mother-in-law, as noted in the Department of Homeland Security Memorandum of Activity report filed by DHS Special Agent Christopher Sanchez, dated March 14, 2005.

As previously reported by WND, Renez Sanchez and Aldrete-Davila grew up together in Mexico. The information that Aldrete-Davila was the Mexican drug smuggler involved in the Feb. 17, 2005, incident with Ramos and Compean originated in a phone call between Sanchez’s mother-in-law, Gregoria Toquinto, and Aldrete-Davila’s mother, Marcadia Aldrete-Davila.

Prosecutor Debra Kanof of Sutton’s El Paso office told the defense counsel and the court at the Ramos-Compean trial, without the jury present, Aldrete-Davila was pleading a Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify against himself in “any other criminal activities.”

The indictment against Aldrete-Davila for the October 2005 drug incident reportedly was sealed at Sutton’s request in order to preserve Aldrete-Davila’s credibility as the government’s star witness against Ramos and Compean.

Sanchez testified at the Ramos-Compean trial as a character witness for the drug smuggler, with whom he had grown up in Mexico.

WND has asked several Ramos and Compean family members to verify this account, but all declined, expressing fear that Cardone would then have reason to prosecute them for violating the gag order.

Both wives told WND that Sutton would prosecute them for contempt of court and would not hesitate to put them in prison if they talked about any information covered by the gag order.

Ramirez said that after Sutton learned about Aldrete-Davila’s second drug bust, he “made sure nobody would ever be able to prove anything about it.”

“Sutton took back the green card he gave Aldrete-Davila as an inducement to testify against Ramos and Compean under immunity, and he refused to give Aldrete-Davila any more medical care at government expense at the Army hospital in El Paso.”

Ramirez asserted that on the day the jury was being picked, the prosecution asked for postponement of the trial – not because Aldrete-Davila needed additional medical surgery in El Paso as the prosecution claimed, but because the prosecution needed time to cover up the second drug bust.

“Aldrete-Davila never was taken to El Paso for another operation,” Ramirez told WND. “It was all a lie. All Sutton wanted to do was to seal and then expunge the criminal records on the second drug bust, so nobody would ever be able to prove anything against his drug smuggler witness. If the second drug bust had come out to the jury, the jury would never have believed a word he said.”

At Sutton’s request, the Ramos-Compean trial was postponed from its originally scheduled October 2005 date to February 2006.

In his Jan. 19 interview with WND, Sutton claimed he would have been willing to prosecute Aldrete-Davila if he could prove a second offense.

“If I had a provable case that Aldrete-Davila had committed other crimes, I could prosecute him.”

WND called Cordone’s office but was told the judge would answer no questions from the press about the Ramos-Compean case.

Her office refused to tell WND when or if a trial transcript would be available, or how much a copy of the trial transcript would cost.

The judge’s office also refused to explain why the court was taking nearly a year to prepare and release the transcript.

Today’s related story:

Poe seeks ‘public’ documents on border agents

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