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Most of those familiar with the railroading saga of ex-border patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos believe that the root of their prosecution came from the top, that being President George W. Bush. To any who have perused my blog, it will become crystal clear that I hold little credence in the concept of the conspiracy theory. That’s not to say that some conspiracy theories are valid, in fact some are. Most however are complete bunk, like 9/11 conspiracy theories for example. In the case of Ramos and Compean, I believe that our moron of a president made certain that these two border agents would see serious prison time.

This idea became even more evident yesterday when White House press secretary Tony Snow made it quite clear (at least to me) that C-grade President Bush does in fact want Ramos and Compean in jail. Snow’s response to a question concerning the two border agents was snarky, rude, and condescending (see below.)

I suppose Bush is reveling in his lack of popularity. He seems to love it. Even with the coming, and likely changing tides of the November elections, Bush just wants to ensure that the Republicans cede as many seats as possible to the Democrats. Unfortunately, like Bush, most of the Dems are illegal alien lovers themselves, very much in favor of open border policies that overwhelm and strain our economy even more than it already is. California has all but returned to Mexico. Texas is close behind with Arizona and New Mexico close on its’ heels.

Make no mistake. This is what Bush wants–more voters for the Republican party, regardless if they can legally vote or not.

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Snow says question on agents’ prison time ‘nonsensical’
Bush spokesman turns back inquiry about jail for officers who injured fleeing smuggler

Asking whether two U.S. Border Patrol agents sentenced to prison for shooting a drug-smuggling suspect in the buttocks is “nonsensical,” according to a White House spokesman, even if it is something of high interest among WND readers.

Yesterday Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, asked Bush spokesman Tony Snow whether Bush would use his power of pardon to free the agents.

“That’s an unanswerable question, Les. The president is the person who is responsible for pardons. You can tell the network, which made you ask that question, that it is nonsensical,” Snow said.

The question referenced the terms of 11 years and 12 years handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, last week. She gave Jose Alonso Compean 12 years in prison and Ignacio Ramos 11 years and one day despite a plea by their attorney for a new trial after three jurors said they were coerced into voting guilty in the case, the Washington Times reported.

As WND has reported, a federal jury convicted Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, in March after a two-week trial on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.

Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.

WND readers have been asking the same question posed to Snow. On a newly-created WND Forums site, which was set up to allow reader input to the WND website, and even to the president, several readers wondered about the situation.

“You should give the both of them a full pardon and inform the judges that they have no [jurisdiction] over the invasion of this country,” wrote cliffhanger. “Also why have you not closed the [border]?”

Keith Lehman also weighed in.

“The rules of engagement should apply. Whether the officer only perceived to see (sic) a weapon, the fleeing criminal had attacked one officer and the other thought that his partner was injured by the fleeing criminal. And as far as the ‘victim’ criminal: When you break the law, you are subject to whatever comes your way – especially when attacking a law enforcement officer,” he said.

“The Border Patrol agents convicted need a pardon yesterday. They then should be returned to their duty, if they so desire, and be reinstated with their record wiped clean and receive all back pay lost to them during this fiasco they call justice.”

Drummerboy simply said the question needs to be answered: will there be a pardon? “Good question, drummerboy,” said squidly.

Ramos, last Feb. 17, responded to a request for back up from Compean, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso. A third agent also joined the pursuit.

Fleeing was an illegal alien, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila of Mexico. Unknown to the growing number of Border Patrol agents converging on Fabens, Aldrete-Davila’s van was carrying 800 pounds of marijuana.

Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on a levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler’s attempt to get back to Mexico.

“We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop, and he just kept running,” Ramos told California’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

“At some point during the time where I’m crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired,” Ramos said. “Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler.”

At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.

“I shot,” Ramos said. “But I didn’t think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn’t look like he had been hit at all.”

In a move that still confuses Ramos and Compean, the U.S. government filed charges against them after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.

“This is the greatest miscarriage of justice I have ever seen,” said Andy Ramirez of the nonprofit group Friends of the Border Patrol. “This drug smuggler has fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you.”

Kinsolving also asked Snow about the situation in the race for the Ohio governor’s office, in which the Cincinnati Enquirer reported an Ohio state Republican spokesman said that Democratic Congressman Ted Strickland should have known a man arrested for exposing himself to children was on his congressional payroll.

“Does the president believe it was wrong for this Republican state spokesman to bring up what most of the national media is refusing to report, even as they so repeatedly report the case of Congressman Foley?” Snow was asked.

“I’m just going to refer that one back to the Ohio Republican Party,” Snow said.

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Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, on Tuesday, two days before he is set to be sentenced. Ramos could receive up to 15 years in prison for shooting a drug smuggler who was entering the United States illegally. (Mark Lambie / El Paso Times)

———————————–

After the injustice perpetrated upon Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who in their right mind would even consider pursuing a career as a United States border agent? Additionally, are there any current border agents familiar with this incredibly tragic story who will not pause to reflect, as they spy illegals entering the U.S. from Mexico, what performing their job might net them–serious jail time? I wouldn’t blame them. I will blame our president.

But this is what George Bush, and all those who agree with him, wants–open borders and free access to cheap labor. Because he is a short-sighted and unintelligent man, he desperately wishes to devalue American schools, shut down our emergency rooms, and generally spread the 3rd world throughout this country–this country that is doomed to die from the inside out as if we’re one giant rotten apple. The old adage states that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It also wasn’t destroyed in a day. It died under the overwhelming weight of immigrants it simply wasn’t able to adequately accommodate. It became rotten.

Bush has expressed his desire to grant amnesty to the already 20 million illegal aliens currently residing in the United States. If we’re truly at 20 million (everyone agrees no lower than 12 million), then the number of illegal aliens residing in this country is far more than “all of the Germans, Italians, Irish, and Jews who ever came to American in the 400 years of our history on this continent.“* In the same vein, according to research conducted by Time magazine, “…the number of illegal aliens flooding into the U.S. this year will total 3 million–enough to fill 22,000 Boeing 737-700 aircraft, or 60 flights every day for a year.”

Pushing aside ideas of MEChA and Aztlan, if you’re one who doesn’t believe we are being invaded then you’re a moron. If you’re too worried that you might step out of the boundaries of political correctness and be labeled a “racist” then you’re a coward. Both ways, you’re simply ignorant, and this country will cave in upon itself from the weight of the ever growing illegal population.

This is not an issue of racism unless certain unsavory groups or peoples make it that way. I don’t blame poor Mexicans their desire, their need to break our immigration laws and try to make better lives for themselves in the United States. I blame our impotent administration for failing to secure our borders. While the analogy may not be all that flattering, equating America to the Roman Empire, at least in this respect, is not far off the target. And like all once mighty empires, the United States will fall, but not from wars. We will fall because our government refuses to address the issue that is slowly killing us–illegal immigration.

It all starts at the border. Go ahead, refuse to secure it. Neuter our border agents and send them to jail for doing the right thing, and that will be the beginning of the end. Am I overreacting? Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose Compean, good hardworking family men and former border patrol agents, will be sentenced this Thursday, October 19th, to no less than 10 years in a maximum security prison for doing their jobs. This is a travesty. It is a severe injustice. It fills me with shame that my government would allow this to happen. It fills me with a great sadness for these two men and their families who will be without husbands, fathers, and sons for potentially the rest of their lives. This must not be allowed.

Shame on George Bush. Shame on Michael Chertoff. Shame on Alberto Gonzales. Shame on Debra Kanof.

Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos hugged his mother, Virginia Orwig, at her home Tuesday. His lawyer is seeking a new trial for Ramos. (Mark Lambie / El Paso Times)

 

 

Congressman ask Justice Department to review law that convicted Ramos

Sara A. Carter, Staff Writer

In an eleventh-hour plea, a half-dozen congressmen are asking the Justice Department to review the federal law used to convict two Border Patrol agents of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler. Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., circulated a letter Thursday among his colleagues that slammed federal statute 924(c), which addresses discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Conviction under the statute carries a minimum 10-year sentence in federal prison.

Jones and five other members of the caucus — including California Reps. Gary Miller (R-Brea), Dana Rohrbacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) — contend in the letter that El Paso, Texas, Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean should not have been charged under the statute because carrying a firearm was a necessary part of their jobs, and that they used the firearms while on duty.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), a motion to delay sentencing for Ramos and Compean was denied. Sentencing is now scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 19,” the letter reads. “We urge you to take any action you can to either delay this sentencing or have the … charges dropped.”

Border agent’s family waits, worries

Sentencing only a day away for convicted pair

Sara A. Carter, Staff Writer

EL PASO, Texas — Virginia Orwig stood in the kitchen, preparing homemade apple and cherry pies. With each turn of the crust, tears fell from her eyes. Cooking is her therapy.

She was baking for her son, Border Patrol Agent Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos, and his family. It might be more than 10 years, even as many as 20, before she bakes for him again, and before the family reunites.

Ramos and his co-worker, Jose Alonso Compean, are to be sentenced Thursday for the nonfatal shooting of a Mexican national, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, who allegedly was trying to smuggle nearly $1 million in marijuana into the United States on Feb. 17, 2005, when he was shot.

For more than 20 months, the families of the two El Paso Border Patrol agents have been struggling to cope with what they believe was an unjust prosecution and conviction. Both men have proclaimed their innocence.

Ramos’ family is numb. At Orwig’s home Tuesday, their faces were somber from worry and lack of sleep.

Orwig shuffled through stacks of letters she had written to local, state and federal leaders, pleading for her son’s life. Many yielded only canned responses. She also made more than 50 phone calls to her local congressman, Sylvester Reyes, R-El Paso, and never got a return call.

Photos of better times hang from the walls of the home, almost mocking the family with memories of times when life was simpler and sweeter.

Orwig smiled at pictures of Nacho when he was in elementary school. Then she shook her head in disbelief, and held her husband Wes — Ignacio’s stepfather — close.

Just then, Ramos’ three children came through the front door, their voices carrying from the downstairs to the upstairs kitchen.

“My biggest concern is for the children,” said Orwig of her grandsons — 6, 9 and 13 — as she continued to bake pies. The house was filling up with family.

“What is left of their childhood?” Orwig cried. “Can you imagine what my son must feel, knowing that he will not be around them to watch them grow up, to share their lives together?

“What has happened to us is more than an injustice. It is a nightmare.”

Just then, Ignacio Ramos walked through his mother’s front door. He walked up to the kitchen, saw his mother baking pies, and hugged her.

“It will be OK,” he said.

His wife, Monica Ramos, came in shortly after.

It was Tuesday. Only two days left before the sentencing. For everyone close to Ignacio, it was as though death was waiting around the corner.

The kitchen fell quiet.

‘WE’RE STILL HERE’

Ignacio Ramos relived the day when he went to help his co-worker, Compean, pursue a vehicle that had tripped Border Patrol sensors near the Rio Grande in Fabens, Texas, just 40 miles southwest of El Paso.

Ramos doesn’t second-guess himself about leaving his lunch behind to help Compean when the call came through on his radio. Ramos said he had no choice but to protect his partner and himself from Aldrete-Davila, who had what Ramos believed to be a weapon in his hand after ditching the van filled with marijuana.

During the ensuing foot pursuit, as the smuggler reached the Rio Grande, Ramos said Aldrete-Davila turned and pointed what Ramos believed to be a weapon at him. Ramos fired one shot. He hit Aldrete-Davila in the buttocks, but the smuggler made his way back into Mexico and fled in a van on the other side.

“No matter how hard this has been, no matter what anybody has said or thought, we are still here,” said Ramos, looking at his wife. “Nobody’s thoughts or ideas about that day have torn us apart as a family. Nobody will ever break us — we’re still here.”

Ramos remembers seeing Compean on the ground after a scuffle with the smuggler. He didn’t know if Compean was injured. Ramos’ first thought when the smuggler turned to him was of his wife and three young sons. He shot at the smuggler to save his life and his partner’s, he said.

What he couldn’t have known is how that day would change the rest of his life, and his family’s. And what he doesn’t understand is why the Texas U.S. Attorney’s office was so adamant about prosecuting him, and why the U.S. government went to such lengths to grant immunity to a drug smuggler to testify against him.

In the past few weeks, Ramos has not slept more than a few hours every night. The lack of sleep is evident on his face, where heavy lines are visible.

His heart is breaking, he said.

He can’t look at his children without feeling a flood of tears well in his eyes. His voice becomes choked.

“I know I’m going to have to talk to them soon,” he said. “The boys know what’s going on, but I don’t have it in my heart to look at them and tell them. I have to tell them that now they’ll only have each other.”

For Monica Ramos, the emptiness has been almost unbearable. Her love for her husband is evident in the way she looks into his eyes and touches his hand.

For months, they haven’t even had an hour alone, she said. The children have become so dependent on them that even staying at their grandparents’ for the night has ended. Their 9-year-old — whose name and the names of his brothers is being withheld to protect their identities — broke down in tears after football practice last week and asked his mother: “Are they really going to take Daddy away? I don’t want Daddy going to prison.”

“Our son is withdrawing,” Monica Ramos said. “He’s becoming very quiet. We try to stay as positive as we can around them. But they know that time is drawing near. Nobody can understand the pain we are feeling as a family.”

Monica now is the sole provider for her family. They have almost lost their home on several occasions, they no longer have medical insurance, and most of the money raised for them will go to attorneys when they appeal the case on Thursday.

Their families have helped keep them afloat. Joe and Ernestina Loya have taken loans against their home and stopped plans for retirement to provide for their daughter and grandchildren. Ramos’ mother quit her job at Raytheon Corp. to help her son with the children. Times have never been tighter for the families.

“This is almost worse than a family death,” said Ernestina Loya as she stood next to Orwig in the kitchen. “In death there is closure. This is more like torture, to take innocent men and condemn them for doing their jobs.”

Threats from associates of Aldrete-Davila have left the Ramoses fearful for their children’s safety. The El Paso Sheriff’s Department has had deputies monitoring the Ramos home since the threats came by e-mail and phone.

‘IT DOESN’T SEEM REAL’

The wind howled Tuesday afternoon, its force almost frightening, the feeling of winter hanging in the air.

Ramos can barely stand to think of the upcoming holidays. He’s already told his wife what he would like to give the children if they can manage to scrape up the money, he said.

“I didn’t want them to wake up Christmas morning without anything personal from me,” he said. “It doesn’t seem real. Everything feels like it’s slipping from my hands.”

His closest cousin, Peter Valdez of Austin, drove to El Paso this week to be with Ramos. Valdez said his biggest concern is for Ramos himself.

“I really feel that the government has made him a scapegoat for a dysfunctional system,” Valdez said. “They have ruined his life.

“But my concern is mainly for Nacho right now. … I fear for my cousin’s safety if he goes to prison. I fear for his safety even if he doesn’t go. He is dealing with very powerful criminal forces — and how will his life ever go back to being what it was?”

Ignacio and Monica understand this as well. They have already written their wills, fixed power of attorney papers and spent months transferring documents into Monica’s name.

And although what has happened to them doesn’t seem real, their love for each other is unquestionable.

In Orwig’s kitchen, they looked into each other’s eyes, not saying a word. Their eyes did not move. Each was transfixed, as though appreciating a special gift.

Then Ignacio, Monica’s hand in his, smiled.

“I was never willing to sign my life away for anything,” he said. “There is nothing they can do to tear this family apart. We have not given up, and we will never give up.

“My children and my wife will always know in their hearts that I did the right thing.”

Sentencing looms for agents, jurors say they were misled

Agents’ lawyer seeks new trial in shooting case

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times

 

Three members of the jury that convicted two former El Paso Border Patrol agents of shooting a drug smuggler in the buttocks last year said they were misled into finding them guilty, according to a motion filed late Tuesday, two days before the agents are to be sentenced.Mary Stillinger, the lawyer for one of the agents, Ignacio Ramos, thought the jurors’ statements should be grounds for setting the verdict aside and ordering a new trial for Ramos and fellow agent Jose Alonso Compean.

The men are scheduled to be sentenced Thursday and face a 10-year mandatory sentence.

It was not known Tuesday night whether U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone would consider the motion for a new trial before the sentencing. Officials of the U.S. attorney’s office said they had not reviewed the new motion and could not comment on it.The three jurors, identified in court documents as Robert Gourley, Claudia Torres and Edine Woods, said they voted not guilty almost to the end of two days of deliberations.

“I did not think the defendants were guilty of the assaults and civil rights violations,” Woods wrote in a sworn affidavit.Compean and Ramos were found guilty of assault with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, a civil-rights charge and obstruction of justice in the Feb. 17, 2005, shooting of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila near Fabens.

Stillinger said she saw some jurors crying after the guilty verdict and later got in touch with them.

Gourley, a Northeast special- education teacher, and Torres said in affidavits that the foreman of the jury told them that Judge Cardone would not accept a hung jury. And Woods said an affidavit that she heard the same statement but could not remember which juror said it.

“Essentially … they conceded their votes, believing that they did not have the option to stick to their guns and prevent a unanimous verdict,” Stillinger wrote in the motion.

Gourley said that he thought the foreman was relating something he heard directly from the judge, and when he found no mention on hung juries in the court’s printed instructions, “I had no reason to doubt the foreman,” he said in the affidavit.

After the trial, Gourley told reporters that he felt pressured by other jurors who wanted to resume their normal lives after more than two weeks of trial. He also said he thought 10 years in prison was a grossly inappropriate punishment for the agents.

“Had we had the option of a hung jury, I truly believe the outcome may have been different,” he said in the affidavit.

Flores said in her affidavit that she believed the foreman because, “he was very experienced in serving on juries. I felt like he knew something about the judge that we did not know. É I did not think that Mr. Ramos or Mr. Compean was guilty of the assaults and civil rights violations.”

The third juror, Woods, wrote in an affidavit, “I don’t remember exactly what it was that made me change my vote to guilty on these charges, but I know I was very influenced by my belief, based on the other juror’s statement, that we could not have a hung jury. I think I might not have changed my vote to guilty if I had known that was an option.”

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It’s a shame that United States border patrol agents are nothing more than glorified security guards who have seemed to garner a greater amount of disdain than normal as of late simply for trying to do their jobs–prevent illegal immigration from our southern border into this country. And while illegal immigration has been a controversial topic for decades, which always baffles me, the flames of dissention between the two clearly defined sides have flared to epic proportions throughout the previous year, which of course effects BP agents via a higher profile–the more aware of something one may become, the more cognizant one is of its benefits and deficits.

Border agents are only as beneficial as the federal government allows, and right now they’re struggling daily, with very little support from said government, to accomplish the assignment they’ve been tasked with. While BP agents were given broader powers post 9/11, for the obvious reasons of terrorist infiltration across the border, their hands are still figuratively tied as law enforcers.

While I believe it’s fairly evident that the men in question in the article below, Border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, may not have acted according to procedure during and after their altercation with well-known drug trafficker and Mexican citizen Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, the fact that they’re facing 20 years each in prison for merely trying to do their jobs reveals a great deal, at least to me, what the federal government thinks about illegal immigration.

And while these two BP agents are facing a great deal of prison time, Aldrete-Davilla, after having been shot in the buttocks by Ignacio, an eight year Naval reserve man and former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the year, received first class medical treatment for his ass-wound at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. You know what that means? American citizens paid to sew up the newly made asshole in drug trafficker, and Mexican citizen, Aldrete-Davila. In other words, fuck American citizens trying to do their jobs and keep the United States safe. Let’s reward a known drug runner and citizen of another country for breaking our laws.

You know what else irritates me? I was born in Willcox, AZ.
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Breaking the silence
Convicted border agent tells his story

By Sara A. Carter, Staff Writer

EL PASO, Texas – Border Patrol Agent Ignacio Ramos could hear his heart racing. He could feel the dry, hot dust burning against his skin as he chased a drug trafficker trying to flee back into Mexico.

Ramos’ fellow agent, Jose Alonso Compean, was lying on the ground behind him, banged up and bloody from a scuffle with the much-bigger smuggler moments earlier.

Suddenly the smuggler turned toward the pursuing Ramos, gun in hand. Ramos, his own weapon already drawn, shot at him, though the man was able to flee into the brush and escape the agents.

Now, nearly 18 months after that violent encounter, Ramos and Compean are facing 20 years in federal prison for their actions.

Why?

According to the U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted the agents, the man they were chasing didn’t actually have a gun, shooting him in the back violated his civil rights, the agents didn’t know for a fact that he was a drug smuggler, and they broke Border Patrol rules about discharging their weapons and preserving a crime scene.

Even more broadly, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof said, Ramos and Compean had no business chasing someone in the first place.

“It is a violation of Border Patrol regulations to go after someone who is fleeing,” she said. “The Border Patrol pursuit policy prohibits the pursuit of someone.”

Her arguments, along with testimony from other agents on the scene and that of the smuggler himself, swayed a jury. It was a crushing blow to Compean and Ramos, both of whom had pursued suspects along the border as a regular part of their job.

It also appears to fly in the face of the Border Patrol’s own edicts, which include “detouring illegal entries through improved enforcement” and “apprehending and detouring smugglers of humans, drugs and other contraband.”

The smuggler was given full immunity to testify against the agents and complete medical care at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, in El Paso.

Neither Ramos nor Compean had granted an interview in the almost 18 months since the shooting. Compean’s attorneys have told him to not speak to anyone about the case.

But Ramos and his family say they no longer can be silent.

“They don’t throw this many charges at guys they’ve caught with over 2,000 pounds of marijuana,” Ramos said. “There’s murderers and child rapists that are looking at less time than me.

“I am not guilty. I did not do what they’re accusing me of.”

SPEAKING OUT
Ramos, 37, and Compean, 28, are set to be sentenced Aug. 22 for shooting Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, a Mexican citizen, on Feb. 17, 2005, in the small Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles south east of El Paso.

A Texas jury convicted the pair of assault with serious bodily injury; assault with a deadly weapon; discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence; and a civil rights violation. Compean and Ramos also were convicted of four counts and two counts, respectively, of obstruction of justice for not reporting that their weapons had been fired.

The jury acquitted both men of assault with intent to commit murder.

But the conviction for discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence requires a minimum 10-year prison sentence. The sentences for the other convictions vary.

On July 25, the El Paso U.S. Probation Office recommended to Judge Kathleen Cardone that each man get 20 years.

Ramos, an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year, now has but one thing on his mind: What will happen to his wife and three young sons if he spends the next two decades in prison?

“It’s (with) a leap of faith and my devotion to God that me and my family will make it through this,” Ramos said as he looked at his wife, Monica, during an exclusive interview with the Daily Bulletin this past month in El Paso.

Two things were clear throughout the interview: Ramos is convinced he was simply doing his job when Aldrete-Davila was shot, and he is perplexed as to why he and his partner are being punished so severely.

IGNACIO’S STORY
Here’s Ramos’ version of what happened that day:

On Feb. 17, 2005, Compean was monitoring the south side of a levee road near the Rio Grande on the U.S.-Mexico border in Fabens when he spotted a suspicious van driving down the north end of the road. He called for backup.

Ramos headed to Fabens, where he thought he could intercept the van at one of only two roads leading in and out of the small town.

Another agent was already following the van — with Aldrete-Davila at the wheel — when Ramos arrived.

Ramos and the other agent followed the van through the center of town until it turned back toward the Rio Grande, which marks the border between Mexico and the United States. Aldrete-Davila, unable to outrun the agents, stopped his van on a levee, got out and started running. Compean was waiting for him on the other side of the levee.

“We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop, and he just kept running,” Ramos said.

Aldrete-Davila made his way through a canal, and Ramos could hear Compean yelling for Aldrete-Davila to stop, he said.

“At some point during the time where I’m crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired,” Ramos said. “Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler.”

Through the thick dust, Ramos watched as Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what appeared to be a gun.

“I shot,” he said. “But I didn’t think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn’t look like he had been hit at all.”

Seven other agents were on the scene by that time. Compean had already picked up his shell casings. Ramos did not, though he failed to report the shooting.

“The supervisors knew that shots were fired,” Ramos said. “Since nobody was injured or hurt, we didn’t file the report. That’s the only thing I would’ve done different.”

The van later was found to have about 800 pounds of marijuana inside.

A DIFFERENT TAKE
The version of events presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office during the agents’ trial differed markedly from Ramos’.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it is a violation of someone’s Fourth Amendment rights to shoot them in the back while fleeing if you don’t know who they are and/or if you don’t know they have a weapon,” said Kanof, the assistant U.S. attorney.

Ramos testified during the trial that he saw Aldrete-Davila with something “shiny” in his hand, she said, and though Ramos told the Daily Bulletin he thought it was a gun, he couldn’t be sure, she said.

Moreover, the agents “did not know who this individual was or what he had in the van,” Kanof said. “They just decided or guessed.”

She then reiterated her contention that pursuing Aldrete-Davila or anyone else fleeing border agents is not part of the Border Patrol’s job.

“Agents are not allowed to pursue. In order to exceed the speed limit, you have to get supervisor approval, and they did not,” she said.

The prosecutor also said the men destroyed the crime scene when Compean picked up his shell casings and attempted to cover up their actions by not reporting they’d fired their weapons.

PUZZLING ARGUMENT
Ramos said his pursuit of Aldrete-Davila was nothing different from what he’s done in the past 10 years as a Border Patrol agent.

“How are we supposed to follow the Border Patrol strategy of apprehending terrorists or drug smugglers if we are not supposed to pursue fleeing people?” he continued. “Everybody who’s breaking the law flees from us. What are we supposed to do? Do they want us to catch them or not?”

Ramos also said that both supervisors who were at the scene knew shots had been fired but did not file reports.

“You need to tell a supervisor because you can’t assume that a supervisor knows about it,” Kanof countered. “You have to report any discharge of a firearm.”

Mary Stillinger, Ramos’ attorney, and Maria Ramirez, Compean’s attorney, said during the trial that every other Border Patrol agent at the scene also failed to report shots had been fired.

“Every single witness has a reason to lie,” Ramirez said, referring to the immunity granted to Aldrete-Davila and the other agents in exchange for testifying against Ramos and Compean.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Table of Offenses and Penalties, failure to report that a weapon has been fired in the line of duty is punishable by a five-day suspension.

Ramos also is puzzled as to why, more than two weeks after the shooting, a Department of Homeland Security investigator — acting on a tip from a Border Patrol agent in Arizona — tracked down Aldrete-Davila in Mexico, offering him immunity if he testified against the agents who shot at him.

Why the agent tipped Homeland Security to the smuggler’s whereabouts is partly explained in a confidential Homeland Security memo obtained by the Daily Bulletin. Why the department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in El Paso pursued the matter so aggressively is less clear.

“Osbaldo (Aldrete-Davila) had told (Border Patrol agent) Rene Sanchez that his friends had told him they should put together a hunting party and go shoot some BP agents in revenge for them shooting Osbaldo,” reads a memo written by Christopher Sanchez, an investigator with the department’s Office of Inspector General. “Osbaldo advised Rene Sanchez that he told his friends he was not interested in going after the BP agents and getting in more trouble.”

Neither Rene Sanchez nor Christopher Sanchez could be reached for comment. Mike Friels, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection branch of the Department of Homeland Security, said he could not comment on the case, citing pending litigation.

BEHIND THE SCENES
In the same Homeland Security memo, Christopher Sanchez outlines how the investigation into Ramos and Compean was initiated.

On March 10, 2005, Christopher Sanchez received a telephone call from Border Patrol agent Rene Sanchez of Wilcox, Ariz., who told the agent about Aldrete-Davila’s encounter with Ramos and Compean.

According to the document, 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 BP agents 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 trial, the connection between Rene Sanchez and Aldrete-Davila confused the Ramos family, and “we questioned how an agent from Arizona would know or want to defend a drug smuggler from Mexico,” said Monica Ramos.

Kanof bristled when asked about the Rene Sanchez/Aldrete-Davila connection.

“It’s an unconscionable accusation that Sanchez is associated with a drug dealer,” she said. “Most BP agents who are Hispanic have family from Mexico. He was born in the U.S. and raised in Mexico and came back to do high school and later became an agent.”

The Ramoses also contend Aldrete-Davila’s story changed several times.

According to the memo, Aldrete-Davila told investigators the agents shot him in the buttocks when he was trying to enter the country illegally from Mexico. But according to Aldrete-Davila’s later testimony and that of the agents, he was shot after trying to evade the agents upon his re-entry into Mexico.

The memo never was disclosed to the jury.

Aldrete-Davila is suing the Border Patrol for $5 million for violating his civil rights.

MISSING HISTORY
As a Border Patrol agent, Ramos has been involved in the capture of nearly 100 drug smugglers and the seizure of untold thousands of pounds of narcotics. He also was nominated for Border Patrol Agent of the Year in March 2005, though the nomination was withdrawn after details of the Aldrete-Davila incident came out.

Ramos also had drug interdiction training from the Drug Enforcement Agency and qualified as a Task Force Officer with the Border Patrol. But Ramos’ training in narcotics — as well as the numerous credentials he had received for taking Border Patrol field training classes — was not admissible during the trial, he said.

“My husband is a good man, a loving father, and his devotion to his country and his job is undeniable,” Monica Ramos said. “Prosecutors treated the drug smuggler like an innocent victim, refusing to allow testimony that would have helped my husband. The smuggler was given immunity. My husband is facing a life in prison.

“It’s so frightening, it doesn’t seem real.”

The El Paso Sheriff’s Department has met with the Ramos family to discuss continued threats against them from people they believe to be associated with Aldrete-Davila. The sheriff’s department also has increased patrols around the family’s home.

The only other organization that has responded to the Ramoses thus far, Monica Ramos said, is the Chino-based nonprofit group Friends of the Border Patrol, chaired by Andy Ramirez.

“This is the greatest miscarriage of justice I have ever seen,” Ramirez said. “This drug smuggler has fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you.”

TJ Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing border agents, said the Border Patrol’s official pursuit policy handcuffs agents in the field. He also sees the prosecution of Ramos and Compean as part of a larger effort by the federal government.

“The pursuit policy has negatively affected the Border Patrol’s mission as well as public safety. Part of that mission is to stop terrorists and drug smugglers,” Bonner said. “They could be smuggling Osama bin Laden, drugs, illegal aliens, or it could have been just some drunk teenager out on a joyride. You don’t know until you stop them.”

“The administration is trying to intimidate front-line agents from doing their job,” he added. “If they can’t do it administratively, they’ll do it with trumped-up criminal charges.

“Moreover, the specter of improprieties in the prosecution of this case raises serious concerns that demand an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation.”

COUNTING THE DAYS
About a week ago, feeling little hope, Joe Loya, Monica Ramos’ father, took the family on what will be Ignacio Ramos’ last fishing trip with his sons before he is sentenced.

“What kind of justice is this?” Loya asked. “What kind of nation do we live in when the word of a smuggler means more than the word of a just man?”

Monica Ramos says her hardest day is yet to come — the day the authorities take her husband away.

“We just guard (our children’s) hearts right now,” Monica Ramos said. “I think about the last time he’ll hug them as children, and maybe not get the chance to hug them again until they are grown men.”

The sons are between 6 and 13 years old.

Ignacio Ramos was, if anything, even more emotional.

“Less than a month left with my family,” he said, his voice choking, as though the air had been pulled from his lungs. “My sons,” he whispered. Then silence.

It took several minutes for Ramos to summon more words. “All I think about at night is the day I have to leave my family. I can’t sleep. I’ve always been with them.”

Then he talked about the memories he would never have, “their first dates, high school graduation, sports,” and the tears falling from his eyes were mirrored only by those of his wife, who took his hand into hers.

– Sara A. Carter can be reached by e-mail at sara.carter@dailybulletin.com or by phone at (909) 483-8552.

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