Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, the illegal alien drug smuggler whose testimony on behalf of the U.S. government led to the conviction and imprisonment of Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, has been indicted and arrested on charges of smuggling more than 750 pounds of marijuana into the United States.
According to news reports, the charges against Aldrete-Davila involve a drug load consisting of 752.8 pounds of marijuana that he allegedly transported across the border on October 22, 2005, more than eight months after the highly-publicized incident involving the border agents. Cipriono Ortiz-Hernandez, the stash house owner Aldrete-Davila allegedly used to store his smuggled drug load, identified him after being arrested on related charges in early August.
According to Cybercast News Service, a federal grand jury indicted Aldrete-Davila on October 17, 2007 for intent to distribute a controlled substance, conspiracy to import a controlled substance, and conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute. The indictment was sealed until November 15, the date Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents arrested the drug smuggler at the border.
Agents Ramos and Compean were convicted last year for shooting Aldrete-Davila in the buttocks in February 2005 as the illegal alien drug smuggler fled for the border, successfully evading arrest for, among other things, smuggling a separate load of drugs consisting of more than 700 pounds of marijuana into the United States. The agents are currently serving a combined 23-year prison sentence.
Aldrete-Davila served as the "star witness" in the government's case against the border agents. In return for his testimony, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton gave him immunity from the February 2005 smuggling incident, taxpayer-funded medical treatment at a military hospital in Texas and a "humanitarian visa" to cross the U.S.-Mexico border as he pleased.
It is believed that Aldrete-Davila used his "humanitarian visa" to help him smuggle the October drug load that is the subject of his recent arrest.
The U.S. government's prosecution of Agents Ramos and Compean has been the subject of sharp criticism from millions of Americans across the country, including the Center for Individual Freedom and its activists. In addition to calling on President Bush to pardon the two agents, critics of the prosecution, upset that the border agents were targeted with what appears to be excessive prosecution, have long wondered why Aldrete-Davila's crimes were forgiven.
In November 2005, the DEA released a report naming Aldrete-Davila as smuggling loads of marijuana into the United States earlier that year. But the DEA report was ruled inadmissible during the jury trial of Ramos and Compean, despite the fact that it would have spoken volumes about the credibility of Aldrete-Davila's "star witness" testimony in the case. According to Andy Ramirez, President of Friends of the Border Patrol, "The government suppressed evidence that was known prior to trial. Instead, they chose to keep the material sealed. This would have meant there was no credibility for the witness."
In response to the public outrage, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have held several hearings on the prosecution and more than 100 Members of Congress have called on President Bush to pardon or commute the sentences of Agents Ramos and Compean. But the White House continues to remain silent on the issue after promising nearly a year ago to look into the matter.
The recent arrest of Aldrete-Davila provides some additional hope for Agents Ramos and Compean's release. As Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) stated last week, "The recent arrest of Aldrete-Davila raises serious questions about decisions that were made in the trial and incarceration of the two agents. The attorney general should review the circumstances of this case immediately and forward a recommendation to the president." Michael Mukasey, the newly-confirmed U.S. Attorney General, agreed to review the case during his confirmation hearing last month.
In addition to the increased pressure on the Administration for the border agents' release, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Ramos and Compean's appeal on December 3. A decision in that appeal is expected to be handed down within 60 days of next week's arguments.
Agents Ramos and Compean are currently in solitary confinement in federal prisons, having already served nearly one year of their 11- and 12-year sentences respectively. Another day in prison, much less another 60 days, is one too many. We only hope that these brave men will be freed in time to spend Christmas with their families.November 30, 2007
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