- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Republican congressman yesterday announced the pending delivery to President Bush of a petition signed by 160,000 Americans calling for the commutation of prison sentences for two U.S. Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a drug smuggling suspect in the buttocks.

During a press conference on the front steps of the Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, Calif., Rep. Dana Rohrabacher asked Mr. Bush to “have some Christian charity and pardon” Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, who are scheduled to begin serving 11- and 12-year prison terms, respectively, next month.

Mr. Rohrabacher called on Mr. Bush to “do the right thing and not allow the lives and families of these fine men to be destroyed.”

Joined during the press conference by Compean and his family, Mr. Rohrabacher described the petition as part of a continuing effort to “turn up the pressure on President Bush to pardon” the agents.

The congressman recently sent a letter to the president demanding his intervention in the case and was joined last month at a Washington press conference by Republican Reps. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, Ted Poe of Texas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee to announce that more than 50 members of Congress had signed on to a pardon request letter to Mr. Bush.

Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, were sentenced Oct. 19 by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, to prison for causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.

A federal jury had convicted the two men in March after a two-week trial, and Judge Cardone ordered them to report to prison Jan. 17.

The government brought the charges after Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, a Mexican national, agreed to testify against the agents in exchange for a grant of immunity in a possible drug case after an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.

The immunity deal protected Mr. Aldrete-Davila from being charged in this country as a drug smuggler. Ramos and Compean found 743 pounds of marijuana in a van Mr. Aldrete-Davila abandoned in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mr. Aldrete-Davila was shot after he illegally entered the United States near Fabens, Texas, and ignored efforts by the agents to stop the van. Court records show he jumped from the vehicle and ran south to the Rio Grande, where he was confronted by Compean, who was knocked to the ground.

Although wounded, Mr. Aldrete-Davila crossed the border and escaped in a waiting van.

“The U.S. attorney wrongly focused on the minor mistakes of the officers instead of on the illegal drug trafficker,” said Mr. Rohrabacher, referring to the fact that the agents did not report the shooting in writing and picked up their shell casings.

The government’s case began after an investigator from the Office of Inspector General located Mr. Aldrete-Davila in Mexico. The investigator had been dispatched after Mr. Aldrete-Davila’s mother told a Border Patrol agent in Arizona that her son had been shot. That agent notified the Department of Homeland Security.

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