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Miscarriage of Justice

The situation with former border agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean is, in my opinion, the biggest miscarriage of justice during the entire Bush Administration.

In 2005, in the Texas desert, southeast of El Paso, Ramos and Compean fired fifteen bullets at a suspected drug dealer, Osvaldo Aldrete Dávila, hitting him once in the buttocks.  Dávila, a Mexican national, was able to make it back across the Rio Grande.   Ramos and Compean were subsequently convicted of firing on an unarmed man and for trying to cover up a crime.  They were sentenced to eleven years.

Here are some facts about the case that many don’t know:

  • Dávila entered the country illegally in a van carrying 743 pounds of marijuana.  When confronted by the agents, a scuffle ensued and Dávila fled to try to escape back across the border.
  • The agents say they saw a shiny object in Dávila’s hand that they thought might be a gun.
  • Federal prosecutors gave Dávila blanket immunity, despite the fact that he was a known drug dealer and paid to have him brought back into the country for the trial.
  • Ramos had previously been named border agent of the year.
  • It was subsequently shown that Dávila had re-entered the U.S. on at least ten other occasions in 2005 and was again caught trying to smuggle marijuana while he was waiting to testify against Ramos and Compean.
  • In December of 2007, an appeals court judge stated that federal prosecutors may have overreacted in their case against the two agents.
  • DHS Inspector General Richard L. Skinner admitted under questioning from Congressman John Culberson that the Department of Homeland Security lied on September 26, 2006 when it made claims that Ramos and Compean confessed guilt and said that they “wanted to shoot some Mexicans” prior to the incident with Dávila.
  • Claims were also made that the agents were at fault because they did not file a written report on the firearm incident.  However, the policy for border patrol agents clearly states that only supervisors may file a written report on firearms incidents.
  • Both agents verbally reported the incident to their supervisors.

While it is true that both Ramos and Compean apparently cleaned up the scene by picking up empty shell casings, the above facts seem to point to some very unnerving holes in the federal prosecutor’s case.

Why would the court or jury weigh the testimony of a known drug dealer against that of two border agents with exemplary records, including one who was border agent of the year at one point?  Why did the government go to such great lengths to pay to bring this criminal from Mexico to the U.S. to testify against two border agents?  Why was the judge or jury not made aware that this individual had an extensive criminal record and that he was again picked up on drug charges while awaiting to testify in the case?

Even if Ramos and Compean should have been convicted, was the eleven year sentence fair and just, considering their exemplary history and the background of the “witness” who testified against them?  It seems to me that if anyone deserves a pardon or commutation of their sentence, it is these two men.  Yet they currently are rotting in prison while it seems that the Bush administration could not care less.


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