Dirty Texas Politics Taint Border Patrol Agents' Trial
I have to give huge kudos to Shawn Christopher Phillips, of the Wry & Coy Report, for compiling some of the least known and most misreported facts surrounding the case of the two Border Patrol Agents prosecuted for shooting a drug smuggler. Shawn has raised some very troubling questions surrounding the case - questions worth asking and investigating. He has also connected the dots in a way that the media has been unable (or unwilling) to do.
Shawn's original research material can be found at www.patgray.com here and here. I have supplemented the accounts with further information from my own research and from Pat Gray's radio show on KSEV, since he and his co-host, Edd Hendee have been investigating the anomalies surrounding this very muddled case.
I have taken the liberty of condensing Shawn's material from several posts to place it into a rough timeline of events as they occurred. As well, I wanted to include information about some of the major players in this case, from the drug smuggler himself all the way up to U.S. Congressmen and Senators.
The central perpetrator in this travesty of justice is the U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, who has old boy Texas connections from the judge overseeing the case all the way up to President George W. Bush. These connections, though not openly disclosed, have greatly impacted the case, as highly placed government officials look the other way while testimonies, evidence, and statements are manipulated behind the scenes.
Did US Border Patrol Agents, Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos actually shoot Mexican national, career drug smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila?
That is what we have been told, that's what has been reported, that is what the trial was about, and that is what Compean and Ramos are in federal prison for right now.
Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila... drug smuggler
Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila is a Mexican national, career drug smuggler. On February 17th, 2005, U.S. Border Patrol Agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos shot Aldrete-Davila once in the buttocks saying that they thought the suspect was armed. This claim has been supported by two of Aldrete-Davila's family members, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. They stated that Aldrete-Davila had been dealing drugs since age 14 and, according to one, he “wouldn't move drugs unless he had a gun on him.”
U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton responded, “There's this impression that all these dopers carry guns,” but mules - smugglers such as Aldrete-Davila - "almost never carry guns," because federal law "tacks on five years to their sentence. In this one statement, US Attorney Johnny Sutton admits to knowing that Aldrete-Davila is “doper” and a “[drug] mule smuggler”.
An Office of Inspector General memorandum contradicts US Attorney Sutton's claim that Ramos and Compean reported Aldrete-Davila was unarmed.
The memorandum of activity was written April 4th, 2005, by Christopher Sanchez, the OIG investigator who questioned Compean about the Feb. 17, 2005, shooting.
Christopher Sanchez memo notes:
Compean said that Aldrete-Davila continued to look back over his shoulder towards Compean as Aldrete-Davila ran away from him. Compean said that he began to shoot at Aldrete-Davila because of the shiny object he thought he saw in Aldrete-Davila's hand and because Aldrete-Davila continued to look back towards his direction. Compean explained that he thought the shiny object might be a gun and that Aldrete-Davila was going to shoot at him because he kept looking back at him.
Osvaldo [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 [Border Patrol] agents in revenge for them shooting Osvaldo. Osvaldo advised Rene Sanchez that he told his friends he was not interested in going after the BP agents and getting in more trouble.
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.
Shots rang out, changing, in Ramos’ mind, the danger level of the chase. Ramos would later testify that “... at some point during the time where I'm crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired. Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler.” Through the thick dust Ramos saw Aldrete-Davila, who was turning to face him. Ramos testified that he saw what appeared to be a nickel-plated gun in his hand.
Believing his life was in danger, he fired. “I shot,” Ramos continued. “But I didn't think he was hit because he kept running into the brush and disappeared. Later we all watched as he jumped into a van [on the other side of the border] waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn't look like he had been hit at all.”
Was Aldrete-Davila shot that day by a U.S. Border Patrol agent?
US-Mexico Sanchez Connections
US Border Patrol Agent, Rene Sanchez
Upon returning to Mexico, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila complained of his misfortunes to his mother, who contacted the mother-in-law of Border Patrol agent Rene Sanchez in Wilcox, AZ. According to a document, Rene Sanchez stated “that Osvaldo 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 Osvaldo via a telephone call.”
Why would a Mexican drug smuggler's mother call the mother-in-law of a US Border Patrol agent, Rene Sanchez, and tell her that her son was shot by the Border Patrol after dumping a million dollars worth of marijuana?
Agent Rene Sanchez repeatedly called the Fabens Border Patrol Station requesting information to see if there were any seizures or shootings. However, according to the Department of Homeland Security in a memorandum of activity document, Rene Sanchez stated that he queried the Border Patrol Tracking System (BPETS) and found that the Fabens Border Patrol Station seized a load of marijuana on February 17, 2005.
(Note: Agent Rene Sanchez also assisted with securing an attorney for Aldrete-Davila to sue Agents Compean and Ramos in a civil case.)
Office of Inspector General Agent, Christopher Sanchez
Agent Christopher Sanchez served as an ICE agent in Arizona before lateraling over to OIG.
In March 2005, Rene Sanchez calls the Office of Inspector General at DHS and speaks to Agent Christopher Sanchez who was a four-month trainee in OIG. Agent Christopher Sanchez began investigating the case, and eventually went to Mexico to bring Aldrete-Davila back to El Paso. The chain of evidence, including custody gets really murky at this point and Compean and Ramos are subsequently arrested, charged, and arraigned within days.
When Compean and Ramos were arrested, protocol would dictate that their supervisors would have called them in to the office where they would have peacefully surrendered to the FBI or U.S. Marshals. Instead, the Department of Homeland Security staged a simultaneous SWAT assault on the Compean and Ramos homes. You know... the type of arrest scene one would expect to see when arresting a criminal illegal alien drug smuggler from Mexico with a million dollars worth of marijuana hidden in his house.
Was there an ulterior motive in using a SWAT team to arrest Compean and Ramos? Were they sending a message to other Border Patrol agents and their families? Will Border Patrol agents now think twice before doing their jobs on the border?
(W&C Report wonders about the damage done.)
Meanwhile, Aldrete-Davila was given full immunity to testify against US Border Patrol Agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos. How did this happen? U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton's office would have us believe that his office was so convinced with the integrity and credibility of Aldrete-Davila, that Sutton thought the third party allegation of an illegal alien drug smuggler who was forced to leave 743 pounds of marijuana in a deserted van on the levee was more than enough to prosecute two US Border Patrol Agents – Compean and Ramos.
Almost a month after the alleged shooting, Agent Rene Sanchez’ mother in-law, Gregoria Toquinto, drove Aldrete-Davila to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center, where he had a fragment of a bullet removed, at taxpayer expense.
How badly could he have been shot, if that much time passed before he required “treatment”? How could anyone even be sure he was shot on February 17th by the Border Patrol agents? He did, after all, run and jump into a waiting get-away van! And where is that bullet fragment? Did it get lost in that murky chain of evidence? That fragment could be crucial evidence in proving whether it came from Compean or Ramos’ guns. Was it brought up in court? We don’t know because the court has failed to complete the court transcripts.
It would be important to the case to know how the drug smuggler's mother knew the mother-in-law of a Border Patrol agent, and whether or not she or her son-in-law had any personal ties to the drug runner. You would think that both the Border Patrol and the DEA would have wanted to tap their telephones to see who Aldrete-Davila and Sanchez were talking to on both sides of the border.
(Note: 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.)
Furthermore, Aldrete-Davila was given a green card AND a car, at American taxpayer expense, so that he could drive back and forth between Mexico. Aldrete-Davila later broke his immunity agreement in October 2005, when officers say he attempted to smuggle 1,000 pounds of marijuana into America, while driving this tax-payer funded vehicle! U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton further extended immunity to this additional felony and sealed the indictment from jurors. Aldrete-Davila’s arrest record was expunged, and a gag order was issued. The jury was not informed of the second smuggling arrest, and Sutton issued a public statement that Aldrete-Davila was “never arrested” on drug charges.
U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton
Recent Statements made by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton -
I would much prefer to be here discussing the prosecution of the drug dealer, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, and how we put him in prison for 20 years.
(Note: Sutton calls Aldrete-Davila a drug dealer.)
But, unfortunately, we had no case against him, because there was no evidence tying him to that van.
(Note: Sutton says there was NO EVIDENCE tying Aldrete-Davila to the van containing the marijuana.)
We would not even know about him had he not come and the investigators for Homeland Security been able to find him through his family. The way we found him is that he came forward and was in Mexico with a lawyer. So, the only way to get him to testify was to give him immunity from being prosecuted. He wasn't going to agree to come to the United States, he wasn't going to agree to talk, unless he had some kind of immunity from being prosecuted for that load.
(Note: Sutton thought this was a good deal.)
Again, we have to have evidence that we can prove in court. And we don't have any evidence.
(Note: Sutton referring to Aldrete-Davila.)
But the thing is that he refuses to talk. He wouldn't come to America. He refuses to talk. We had to persuade, like we do all the time in court, we have to persuade witnesses to come to court to testify. There are all kinds of witnesses who come forward in court all the time to testify in court because they're persuaded.
(Note: Sutton leading or coaching the witness?)
I can't tell you what's inside Aldrete-Davila's head.
(Note: Aldrete-Davila has 5-million reasons to lie.)
I mean, there are many times we persuade witnesses to come forward to testify in court. But, remember, he didn't make an admission. He refused to make an admission until his lawyer had an agreement for use immunity. He wouldn't come to the United States and we couldn't extradite him because, number one, we didn't have any evidence against him, and, number two, we didn't have a case.
It's one of those situations where we gave up very little by giving him use immunity in this case, because we couldn't prove a case against him. He did not make admissions until we agreed to give him immunity for what he was saying.
(Note: Sutton gave up very little? Only Compean and Ramos.)
Unfortunately, the case against Aldrete-Davila was not prosecutable because of these agents. There was no way to link Aldrete-Davila with that load of marijuana.
(Note: Sutton contradicts himself.)
Apr. 13, 2005, from a statement by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton's office:
According to the criminal complaint, on or about February 17, 2005, a Mexican National attempting to flee back into Mexico near Fabens, Texas, was shot at by the defendants.
This case is being investigated by the office of Inspector General - Department of Homeland Security.
Aug. 11, 2006, from statement US Attorney Johnny Sutton's office:
“At the initiation of their investigation, the DHS Office of Inspector General contacted Aldrete-Davila who was at the time in Mexico. Aldrete-Davila was at first reluctant to cooperate with the investigation because he feared that should he return to the United States, he could be prosecuted for the offenses committed in relation to the load of marijuana he was driving on February 17, 2005. In order to secure his cooperation and appearance at trial in the United States, this office agreed that in return for his truthful testimony he would not be prosecuted for the February 17, 2005 offenses. The agreement does not immunize any other conduct.”
Later, Sutton issues a fact sheet that makes it sound like the Aldrete-Davila couldn’t possibly be tied to the van of marijuana he was driving - this despite the fact that multiple Border Patrol agents saw him driving the van. No fingerprints? Not even a hair or an eyelash? Doubtful.
On January 17th, 2007, from the misnomered "fact sheet" issued by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton's office:
Myth: THE GOVERNMENT LET A DRUG SMUGGLER GO FREE
Reality: My office would have much preferred to see Aldrete convicted and sent to prison for his crimes. We are in the business of putting guys like Aldrete behind bars. In fact, this office leads the nation in the number of drug smuggling cases we prosecute. Because the agents could not identify him, found no fingerprints, could not tie him to the van and did not apprehend him after shooting him, the case against Aldrete could not be proven.
How is this a MYTH? By Sutton’s own admission, Aldrete-Davila is a drug smuggler, and he is free (though two of our own law enforcement officers are now in federal prison)! It is NOT a myth, it is fact. Sutton’s spin on it doesn’t make it less factual!
On September 19th, 2006, in a meeting with various Congressmen who were looking into the case, Sutton’s office told the Congressmen (including Ted Poe, John Culberson, Dana Rohrbacher, and others) that Compean and Ramos had made some incriminating admissions and signed statements concerning their own guilt. The Congressmen requested to see those signed statements, and Sutton’s office agreed to produce them immediately. They have failed to do so after repeated demands from the Congressmen’s offices, and four months later, the Congressmen are now doubtful that such statements exist. Did Sutton’s office knowingly LIE to U.S. Congressmen?
It is interesting to note that Johnny Sutton has also aggressively prosecuted a Sheriff’s deputy in Rock Springs, Texas, for allegedly violating the civil rights of illegal aliens he had apprehended. The 23 year old sheriff’s deputy, Deputy Hernandez, had a sterling record, and the Edward County sheriff said Deputy Hernandez was doing exactly what he was told to do. How did the deputy violate the civil rights of the illegal aliens he was trying to apprehend? He shot out the tires of their vehicle when they tried to run over him. One of the bullets struck an illegal alien in the back of the vehicle (he was not killed). Johnny Sutton recommended that the deputy be held without bond. He is sitting in the Del Rio jail today, without bond, and awaiting sentencing.
US Assistant Attorney, Debra Kanof
U.S. Assistant Attorney, Debra 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.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof claimed out that pursuing suspects is not part of the Border Patrol's job. "Agents are not allowed to pursue," she said. "In order to exceed the speed limit, you have to get supervisor approval, and they did not." Additionally, in the words of Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof, “It is a violation of Border Patrol regulations to go after someone who is fleeing.”
Assistant US Attorney Debra Kanof decreed that if an illegal immigrant, even a drug kingpin or terrorist, flees from a Border Patrol agent, regulations demand that he not further pursue or apprehend the fugitive. US Border Patrol Agents widely disregard this because their own edicts say things like “detouring illegal entries through improved enforcement” and “apprehending and detouring smugglers of humans, drugs and other contraband.”
Judge Kathleen Cardone
Judge Kathleen Cardone - a part-time fitness instructor - was nominated by President George W. Bush on May 1, 2003, to a newly created seat, and was sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Judge Cardone was confirmed by the Senate on July 28, 2003, and received commission on July 29, 2003. Her prior experience had been as a family court judge.
Several of the jurors came forward, a few days before the sentencing of Compean and Ramos in October, to say they had been holdouts against a guilty verdict and only voted with the majority when other jurors told them the judge wouldn't allow a hung jury. They expressed they felt severely pressured.
Judge Cardone denied the motion for a new trial.
Agents Compean and Ramos had filed a motion with the court to remain free on bond while they appealed their case. Despite the fact that the two agents were not deemed a flight risk, Judge Cardone, U. S. District Court, Western District of Texas denied the motion, ordered them to surrender to the US Marshall, and thus, ordered the agents to begin serving their sentences.
US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
As governor, George W Bush brought Alberto Gonzales into his administration in 1994 as a senior adviser to the governor, chief elections officer, and the governor's lead liaison on Mexican and border issues. Gonzales later became White House Counsel in 2000, when George Bush became President, and was eventually nominated by Bush for Attorney General of the United States. On November 24, 2004, Gonzales, got the backing of the National Council of La Raza:
The NCLR promotes driver's licenses for illegal aliens, no immigration law enforcement by local and state police and amnesty programs broader than the administration's proposal.
La Raza supports legislation such as the Civil Liberties Restoration Act, which would roll back policies adopted after Sept. 11 designed to protect national security. It supports the "DREAM Act," which would mandate states to offer in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens” thus, providing them with benefits not available to U.S. citizens from other states.
The group opposes the “Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act of 2003” and the “Homeland Security Enhancement Act” would give state and local police officers the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
The group also supports legislation to ensure illegal immigrants' ability to obtain driver's licenses.
On March 29th, 2006, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales named U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton to serve as chair for the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys. (The Advisory Committee plays a vital role in furthering the Department's law enforcement efforts and represents the voice of the United States Attorneys in making Department policy.) Sutton has been a member of the Advisory Committee since 2002.
Texas Senator John Cornyn
John Cornyn refused to sign a petition presented by Texas Congressman Ted Poe requesting that the Border Patrol agents be released on bond pending their appeal. He has also refused to look at the case further.
Pat Gray, of KSEV radio, called Senator John Cornyn’s office in D.C. to clarify his perspective on the Border Patrol case
He's not taking a stand. He's not taking ANY stand. "As a former Supreme Court Justice, Senator Cornyn believes in the justice system...these agents had their day in court, and if errors were made, they should come out in the appeals process", said Cornyn staffer, Brian Walsh.
A staffer also told a caller that “the Senator had no power to affect anything in the case…he believes these men got what they deserved, and he will not get involved.” That is a quote verbatim from Senator Cornyn’s office.
While Johnny Sutton worked on George Bush’s team in Austin, during Bush’s governorship, John Cornyn was Bush’s Attorney General. As well, Cornyn appointed a John Sutton, dean of UT Law School (and of the age to be Johnny Sutton’s father or uncle), to be a member of his D.C. transition team.
Texas Congressman Michael McCaul
Michael McCaul refused to sign the petition presented by Congressman Ted Poe requesting that the Border Patrol agents be released on bond pending their appeal. As well, McCaul is Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Investigations and in that capacity he refused to subpoena documents concerning the case, and refused to hold a hearing to review the case, which was within his purview.
What’s interesting is that Michael McCaul is a former employee of U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.
U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton gave immunity to Mexican national, career criminal, drug smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila in order to pursue his prosecution of U.S. Border Patrol Agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos.
A criminal by definition does not follow or obey the law. Since he was given immunity from prosecution, Aldrete-Davila has violated his immunity deal at least twice.
Federal Judge Kathleen Cardone agreed with Sutton to not allow the jury to see or know about:
● The sealed indictment of Aldrete-Davila for his second arrest for drug smuggling in October 2005, after the incident when he was supposedly the victim of agents Ramos and Compean.
● Aldrete-Davila's agreeing to not withhold any information, then refusing to divulge the names of his fellow smugglers who picked him up at the border.
What does a cartel drug lord, with the audacity to put a bounty on the heads of the US Border Patrol Agents, do to a drug mule that loses his merchandise - $1 million dollars worth? Is it possible that within the weeks after Aldrete-Davila abandoned his load of drugs on the American side of the border, that he was shot by the drug cartel for whom he worked? Is it possible that he allowed himself to be “persuaded” by Johnny Sutton to be taken into protective custody in order to gain sanctuary from his employer? Alternatively, did this cartel drug lord have friends high enough in the Vicente Fox government to apply pressure on the Bush Administration?
Think about it: If Compean had shot Aldrete-Davila, a blood trail would have started at the levee.
If Ramos had shot Aldrete-Davila, a blood trail would have started closer to the border.
Based solely on Aldrete-Davila's testimony, with NO EVIDENCE or even a mention of a blood trail, both Compean and Ramos were convicted of shooting him. That's right. There was NO EVIDENCE of any blood to indicate which officer shot him.
It is just as likely that Aldrete-Davila was shot by the drug cartel boss in Mexico who would have been irate about losing over a million dollars in contraband.
● How much tax-payer money was used for this case?
● If there is no way to connect Aldrete-Davila to the van-load of marijuana, then why does Johnny Sutton keep tying him to the van-load of marijuana?
● If, as Sutton claimed in one statement, Aldrete-Davila was merely illegally entering the country, why was there a get-away van waiting for him on the Mexican side of the border?
● If there was no evidence – no blood, no fingerprints – from the scene, and no way to prove he was there, then why would Sutton accept every word of Aldrete-Davila?
● With the extremely lax chain of custody that occurred, with only a partial fragment of bullet removed, who shot Aldrete-Davila?
● Where is the bullet fragment?
● Where are the court transcripts? Repeated requests by Congressmen have been met with statement from the court that they are not yet transcribed. Why have they not been completed almost half a year after the conclusion of the case?
● Why was Aldrete-Davila given immunity - TWICE - plus a green card, and a car?
(W&C Report declares that Johnny Sutton's explanations smell like 3-day old mackerel left to rot in the sun.)
Edd Hendy, of KSEV radio, spoke with the Sheriff of El Paso County, the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the county, and asked if the proceedings were legitimate or should the case be objected to and reviewed. The Sheriff said, “These guys are getting screwed.”
Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila is now suing the US Border Patrol for $5-million for violating his civil rights, and Compean and Ramos are each doing over 12 years hard time.
It's rumored inside the beltway that President Bush will appoint Johnny Sutton to the federal bench before he leaves office on Jan. 20, 2009.
No word yet on whether President Bush contacted and spoke with the families of Compean and Ramos.
Congress is considering passing its own pardon powers.
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