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By James P. Tucker Jr.

In a shocking tribute to political correctness, two border agents face 20 years in prison for doing their duty and an illegal alien who committed felonies is free, says the head of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC).

Senior Agents Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose A. Compean are accused of shooting a suspect who was running away. The suspect escaped to Mexico but returned to testify against the agents after being given immunity on drug-smuggling charges, said NBPC President R.J. Bonner.

The agents had followed long-established Border Patrol policies in the incident, said Bonner. In addition, according to Bonner, exonerating evidence was withheld during the March trial of Ramos and Compean.

Two of the 12 jurors who originally convicted the agents told The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario, Calif., recently that they were pressured by prosecutors to return guilty verdicts. Other jurors sought a quick verdict because spring break was a week away and they wanted to avoid long deliberations.

Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila had been wounded while fleeing agents along the Rio Grande near El Paso, Tex. The agents said he pointed what appeared to be a gun at them as they tried to arrest him. More than 800 pounds of marijuana worth $1 million

was found near the van he abandoned at the river’s edge.

Aldrete-Davila is now suing the federal government for $5 million, saying his civil rights were violated.

“This thing stinks to high heaven,” Bonner told a Washington newspaper. “I am outraged and at a loss to explain why there were so many irregularities in this case. The only thing that is clear is that the prosecutors pointed their guns at the wrong guys, the good guys, and they let the bad guy walk. Now they want to send these agents to prison for doing their job. That offends me, and I believe most Americans would agree.”

Spotted in his van near the Rio Grande, records show Ramos gave chase while Compean circled around to head off the suspect. When Aldrete-Davila jumped out of the van and ran south toward the river, he was confronted by Compean, who was thrown to the ground as the two men fought. Ramos said he saw Compean on the ground and chased Aldrete-Davila to the river, where the suspect suddenly turned and pointed what appeared to be a gun.

“I shot, but I didn’t think he was hit because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it,” Ramos said. “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.”

From Mexico, Aldrete-Davila called a Border Patrol agent in Arizona to say he was “forming a hunting party” to return to the United States and get revenge and the call was reported to Homeland Security. An investigator from the Office of Homeland Security tracked down Aldrete-Davila in Mexico and offered immunity in exchange for his testimony.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Kanof, who prosecuted the case, claimed it was a violation of Border Patrol policy for agents to pursue fleeing suspects.

(Issue #36, September 4, 2006)

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Updated August 27, 2006