WND has discovered a previously unreported connection between the case of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean and the Department of Transportation’s Mexican truck-demonstration project.

In the Ramos-Compean case, the two agents convicted for 11 and 12 year prison terms respectively for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler, an overlooked fact is that the fleeing smuggler held a valid Mexican commercial drivers license at the time of the incident.

In his testimony at the trial of Ramos and Compean, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila first testified that he held a commercial drivers license that expired in November 2004.

Under cross-examination from Ramos’ defense counsel Mary Stillinger, Aldrete-Davila reversed his testimony, admitting he had two commercial drivers licenses and that one of the licenses, which authorized him to transport hazardous material, was valid until 2013.

Under close questioning, Stillinger refuted Aldrete-Davila’s contention that a certificate on his second license required to transport hazardous material had expired six months before the drug incident involving Ramos and Compean.

Stillinger established that Aldrete-Davila had a certificate valid through December 2005, giving him permission to go into Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, to transport gasoline.

The incident involving Ramos and Compean occurred on Feb. 17, 2005.

Aldrete-Davila maintained at trial he committed the drug offense only because he had lost his commercial drivers license and needed money for his sick mother.

Critics believe evidence of the second drug load Davila brought into the United States while given immunity by prosecuting U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton establishes Aldrete-Davila was an experienced drug runner, not the picture of the innocent victim he was by prosecutors to present to the jurors at trial.

That a drug smuggler such as Aldrete-Davila could hold a Mexican commercial drivers license is proof that Mexico has no reliable method to screen the previous criminal records of commercial drivers who might get certified as “trusted traders” under the Security and Prosperity Partnership definition of FAST lanes designated for use in the Mexican truck DOT demonstration project.

No certified drug labs in Mexico

Last week, the inspector general of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration submitted to Congress an audit report documenting that “Mexico has no certified drug or alcohol testing laboratories and any samples in Mexico must be sent to certified laboratories in the United States.”

The audit report further commented that, “it is not clear whether the controls in place ensure that valid specimens are being collected in Mexico before being sent to a certified laboratory.”

The inspector general’s audit left no doubt that, “It is not clear as to whether the controls in place ensure that valid specimens are being collected before being sent to a certified laboratory.”

In other words, even when specimens reach certified drug and alcohol testing labs in the United States, the FMCSA cannot be sure the drug specimens came from the Mexican drivers submitting the specimens.

This is in direct contrast to the vigorous drug and alcohol testing requirements that the FMCSA places on U.S. commercial drivers.

No national criminal database in Mexico

As WND has previously reported, DHS and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have no way of knowing for certain whether or not Mexican truck drivers applying for participation in the Department of Transportation’s proposed test have criminal histories or troubled driving records with traffic convictions.

The problem is that Mexico maintains no reliable national criminal database or driving history database against which the FAST identification applications or OP-1(MX) commercial drivers’ license applications can be checked.

DHS spokesman Eric Blum conceded to WND that no national criminal database exists in Mexico.

“We do get criminal information on Mexican citizens from Interpol and the FBI,” Blum argued. “It’s not as vibrant as the data we get from Canada. There are shortcomings to the Mexican criminal data, but we do get criminal information on Mexican national citizens.”

“The Mexican criminal data may not be what we would like to see,” Blum admitted. “It’s not one, clean database for all Mexican criminal records. But we’re confident that we can take other steps to assure that we are able to secure the borders and ports of entry from criminal activity.”

As WND reported, in March 2007, Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced plans to submit to the Mexican Congress a federal criminal-justice reform package that would create for the first time a reliable nationwide database to track criminals and monitor criminal activity across jurisdictions.

The Mexican Congress has not yet taken action on this proposal. All criminal data in Mexico are maintained at the state level and there is no methodology in place to test the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the state-level criminal history data that are available.

Yet Mexican trucks continue to be the principle way Mexican drug cartels transport drugs into the U.S.

The National Drug Intelligence Center in the U.S. Department of Justice reports, “Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) transport wholesale quantities of illicit drugs into Arizona using private and commercial vehicles, often equipped with hidden compartments.”

Mexican trucks ready to roll

Despite these obvious deficiencies, WND has reported Mexican government statements published only in Spanish indicate 37 Mexican trucking companies have been certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation to participate in the Mexican demonstration project.

Mexican Transportation Secretary Luis Tellez has claimed the 37 Mexican trucking companies will be allowed to run their long-haul rigs on any U.S. road without limitation as early as next week, Sept. 1, before Congress has returned to Washington from the August recess.

Yet, as WND has previously reported, the FMCSA plans to utilize SPP-developed FAST lanes relying on electronic checks that will allow Mexican trucks to enter into the United States in as little as 15 seconds, without any physical inspection of their truck trailers or shipment containers.

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