Border agents’ par­don urged of Bush af­ter drug smug­gler’s ar­rest

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Sara A. Carter

Top con­ser­va­tives have joined rank­ing House lead­ers in their bid to pres­sure the pres­i­dent to par­don two Border Pa­trol agents im­pris­oned for the non­fa­tal shoot­ing of a Mex­i­can drug smug­gler in El Paso, Texas, in 2005.

In a let­ter that was de­liv­ered to the White House Nov. 19, 31 ma­jor con­ser­va­tive pe­ti­tion­ers joined a cam­paign led by Rep. Dun­can Hunter, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can and pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, ask­ing Pres­i­dent Bush to par­don Ig­na­cio Ramos and Jose Alonso Com­pean be­fore Thanks­giv­ing.

The let­ter comes on the heels of the ar­rest of ad­mit­ted drug smug­gler Os­valdo Al­drete-Dav­ila on charges of traf­fick­ing mar­i­juana while he was prof­it­ing from the fed­eral im­mu­nity deal as the star wit­ness in the shoot­ing case against the agents.

“His­tory has proven that the mere words and deeds of a pres­i­dent can change the course of his­tory and pro­foundly af­fect both the tone and di­rec­tion of the na­tion’s moral char­ac­ter for gen­er­a­tions to come,” said the let­ter signed by 31 pe­ti­tion­ers, mostly from Chris­tian con­ser­va­tive groups and na­tion­alse­cu­rity or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“The im­pact of a pres­i­dent’s si­lence can have the same dra­matic and dev­as­tat­ing re­sults. That is why we find your con­tin­ued si­lence on the is­sue of a pres­i­den­tial par­don for Border Pa­trol agents Ramos and Com­pean of great con­cern,” it said.

Ramos and Com­pean are serv­ing 11 and 12 years, re­spec­tively, for the shoot­ing, which oc­curred in Fe­bru­ary 2005. They have served nearly a year in soli­tary con­fine­ment for their own pro­tec­tion be­cause of the high profile of their case. The pair is sched­uled to ap­peal the con­vic­tion on Dec. 3 be­fore the 5th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in New Or­leans.

The let­ter is one of more than a dozen at­tempts — in­clud­ing a pe­ti­tion signed by nearly 400,000 peo­ple across the na­tion — to reach the pres­i­dent. Mr. Hunter hand-de­liv­ered a sim­i­lar let­ter to the pres­i­dent on Nov. 16.

Some of the first sig­na­tures on the long list are con­ser­va­tive stal­warts Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foun­da­tion, David Keene of the Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tive Union and Mor­ton Black­well of the Lead­er­ship In­sti­tute. Oth­ers in­clude for­mer Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial Frank Gaffney of the Cen­ter for Se­cu­rity Pol­icy and anti-fem­i­nist ac­tivist Phyl­lis Sch­lafly of the Ea­gle Fo­rum.

The sign­ers say they “find it un­ac­cept­able that some dis­il­lu­sioned Amer­i­cans are be­ing forced to con­clude that the lives of Ramos and Com­pean are sim­ply what the gov­ern­ment has deemed an ac­cept­able level of ‘col­lat­eral dam­age’ for a failed border se­cu­rity and na­tional im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.”

Two weeks ago, U.S. At­tor­ney Johnny Sut­ton, whose of­fice pros­e­cuted the case against the Border Pa­trol agents, an­nounced the ar­rest of Mr. Al­drete-Dav­ila. He was ar­rested Nov. 15 at the Zaragoza Bridge in El Paso by agents with the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion and the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

A grand jur y in­dict­ment charged the Mex­i­can na­tional, who wore body ar­mor on Nov. 16 for his ar­raign­ment, with con­spir­acy and pos­ses­sion with in­tent to dis­trib­ute mar­i­juana in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber 2005, of­fi­cials said.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials would not dis­close de­tails about Mr. Al­dreteDav­ila’s ar­rest, about how he en­tered the U.S. through a le­gal port of en­try or about his rea­son for at­tempt­ing to cross the border.

Mr. Al­drete-Dav­ila ad­mit­ted to smug­gling drugs in a 2005 im­mu­nity deal in the pros­e­cu­tion of the Border Pa­trol agents’ case, but told the jury that con­victed Ramos and Com­pean that he had no idea he was traf­fick­ing mar­i­juana in his van and didn’t know how to pack­age the drug.

He has en­tered hos­pi­tals in El Paso un­der fed­eral es­cort since the Oc­to­ber 2006 sen­tenc­ing of the for­mer agents, eye­wit­nesses close to the case told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

On Nov. 8, Mr. Al­drete-Dav­ila was at a hospi­tal in El Paso for a pre-oper­a­tive ap­point­ment for surgery, the eye­wit­ness source said. That source and other El Paso sources have told The Times that the U.S. gov­ern­ment has been pay­ing for his med­i­cal bills.

Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties, how­ever, de­nied that Mr. Al­drete-Dav­ila had en­tered the U.S. un­der fed­eral es­cort sev­eral times for med­i­cal treat­ment.

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Os­valdo Al­drete-Dav­ila

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