WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Mexican drug smuggler whose testimony under a grant of immunity helped American prosecutors convict and jail two U.S. Border Patrol agents has now pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired to smuggle marijuana into the United States twice after he was granted immunity.
In light of this new development, Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie is renewing his demand that President George W. Bush pardon or commute the sentences of incarcerated Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. Ramos and Compean are serving jail sentences of 11 and 12 years, respectively for actions taken in apprehending Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila on February 17, 2005.
"Once again, I am challenging President Bush to do what is right," said Massie. "It is time to prove that he places the welfare of American communities and those men and women who risk their lives to protect them over the welfare of lying illicit drug smugglers. Pardon Ramos and Compean now, Mr. President!"
On April 17, Aldrete-Davila pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy to import a controlled substance and conspiracy to distribute. He could face a jail term of between five and 40 years and $2 million in fines. The marijuana Aldrete-Davila admitted to smuggling was brought into the United States in September and October of 2005 and distribution took place between June and November of 2005 - after he has testified against Ramos and Compean under a grant of immunity from a team of federal prosecutors lead by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton. President Bush says he considers U.S. Attorney Sutton a "dear friend."
Aldrete-Davila is scheduled to be sentenced in July. The Washington Times quoted an unnamed source reportedly close to the case who said Aldrete-Davila may actually only receive a sentence of six to 10 years in exchange for his plea.
Compean and Ramos were prosecuted for an incident in February of 2005 on the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso, Texas in which they chased Aldrete-Davila on foot after he abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $1 million. During the chase, Ramos shot at Aldrete-Davila after Ramos thought he saw Aldrete-Davila draw a gun. Aldrete-Davila escaped across the U.S.-Mexico border, and Ramos assumed Aldrete-Davila was unhurt. In fact, Aldrete-Davila had been shot in the buttock. U.S. Attorney Sutton later charged that Ramos and Compean violated Border Patrol policy by pursuing Aldrete-Davila without supervisor approval, moving spent shell casings and improperly reporting the fired shots.
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, the agency's labor union, testified before the U.S. Senate that a medical examination of Aldrete-Davila supports the agents' description of events and complied with Border Patrol and Justice Department policies. The convictions of Ramos and Compean are currently on appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. At the time of the appeal, the judges reviewing the case were aware of the charges against Aldrete-Davila to which he has now pleaded guilty.
Project 21's Massie added: "It cannot be overstated that President Bush's stolid indifference thus far toward the suffering of these brave protectors of our borders and their families, while simultaneously seeking special dispensation for illegal immigrants, is unconscionable. Now it appears that the burden to be borne by agents Ramos and Compean for unknowingly wounding a now admitted drug criminal as he fled from justice across the border is going to be greater than that to be borne by the criminal himself. When the Bush Administration is seeking to protect polar bears from unproven global warming scare-mongering, to not pardon or at least commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean in light of these new-found truths will severely tarnish the Bush legacy."