Vol. 15 Issue No. 3 | January 21 – 27, 2009

Bush commutes sentences of agents Ramos and Compean

By Linda Bentley | January 14, 2009

Border agents’ sentence to expire March 20

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On his last day in office, President Bush responded to two years of public outcry by commuting the 12 and 11-year prison sentences of Border Patrol agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos, who have spent the majority of the past two years in solitary confinement after being convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler in 2005.

Bush set their release date for March 20, although it was not clear why.

Both agents testified they believed drug runner Osvaldo Aldrete Davila was armed when he was shot fleeing back across the border, leaving behind a van loaded with nearly 800 pounds of marijuana.

Last week, Ronald Rodgers, pardon attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, indicated the agents were not being considered for pardons at this time, although he did say a file had been opened to consider their eligibility for commutation.

Monica Ramos and her father Joe Loya have devoted the last two years to seeking justice for the two agents, hoping their convictions will be eventually be overturned.

Their lengthy sentences were due to U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton charging the agents with use of a weapon during the commission of a crime, which is a sentencing enhancement tool that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

However, as many have argued, Ramos and Compean were not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time of the shooting but performing their duties as border patrol agents.

Initially the agents were cleared of any wrongdoing but then the Mexican government became involved and insisted they be prosecuted.

Ramos and Compean later learned Aldrete Davila, while provided with immunity, a border-crossing card and other privileges in exchange for his testimony against the two agents, was caught smuggling drugs across the border on at least one other occasion, which conflicted with his testimony that he had only brought drugs into the country that one time so he could buy medicine for his sick mother.

When Aldrete Davila was convicted for his second drug run, he received a sentence of nine and a half years, lighter than both Ramos and Compean’s.

Even though Aldrete Davila was prosecuted for his second drug smuggling incident, for which Sutton sent out press releases, Aldrete Davila’s records were nowhere to be found on PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records).

Sonoran News later learned, by accident, Aldrete Davila’s case was filed as Aledrete Davila, which appeared to be done purposefully to prevent access to his case file.

Meanwhile, every single one of Sutton’s press releases, in which Aldrete Davila’s name was mentioned, Sutton spelled his name Aldrete Davila, whereas on every single court document, he spelled it Aledrete Davila.

Courtesy Photos: Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos (l), Jose Alonso Compean (r)