HOW US ATTORNEY SUTTON STACKED THE DECK AGAINST 2 BORDER PATROL AGENTS
by Michael Cutler
William E. Gladstone, former Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1868 to 1894 is famously remembered for his quote, "Justice delayed is justice denied."
An article appears in today's edition of the Washington Times written by a staff reporter Sara A. Carter. She was also awarded the Eugene Katz Award for journalism by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank with which I have been associated for a number of years.
The news report in question discusses the arraignment of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, a Mexican citizen who has been charged with conspiracy to distribute hundreds of pounds of marijuana in the United States between June 2005 and November 2005. What makes this seemingly routine matter anything but routine is the fact that Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean were involved in an incident in which they fired a number of shots at the alleged smuggler after they attempted to stop him when they found him on the U.S. side of the Mexican border and he resisted arrest and then, according to the agents, spun around and pointed an object at them. They stated that they believed that he was holding a weapon and was about to shoot them. In short, they claim that they were acting in self defense. This is a reasonable concern that they articulated and it is my opinion that it is entirely likely that Aldrete Davila was armed because after the incident the vehicle he was observed driving just before the encounter was found to have hundreds of pounds of marijuana concealed within it. In my many years of experience in dealing with drug traffickers, it is virtually unheard of that a drug trafficker or smuggler would be moving a significant load of illicit drugs or cash and not be armed to protect his cargo.
According to the account of the Border Patrol agents, they did not believe that they had struck him with their bullets and therefore they did not file a written report of the incident to their superiors but believed that their boss who showed up minutes after the incident knew that shots had been fired. While it may well be that these two agents committed an administrative infraction where the failure to file a report is concerned, the incredible thing about this event is that they were charged with using firearms in the commission of a crime. It is my understanding that the intention of that law was to provide additional punishment to any criminal who uses a weapon in the commission of a crime. An example of this would be an alien smuggler who is armed at the time he is smuggling illegal aliens into our country or perhaps smuggling drugs into the United States. Other such crimes involving a firearm come to mind, but the point is clear, the law was obviously meant to punish armed criminals. This is a strategy that makes good common sense. In the case of Ramos and Compean, however, the weapons that they carried on the day of the incident were weapons that they were authorized to carry inasmuch as they were Border Patrol Agents and are required to carry firearms while on duty for obvious reasons.
What is even more disturbing is that the jury that heard the case against the Border Patrol Agnets was never told that Osvaldo Aldrete Davila had been subsequently arrested with a load of narcotics several weeks after the incident in which he was purportedly shot by the agents.
When United States Attorney Johnny Sutton appeared before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing he made a number of statements that I could dissect but will, for the sake of brevity focus on one particularly disturbing statement that he made. To quote from the transcript of the hearing:
"Some critics have claimed that all drug smugglers like Aldrete carry guns, and that my prosecution of Agents Compean and Ramos had a chilling effect on other Border Patrol agents, causing them to fear using their firearms. I believe both assertions are mistaken. From January 2004 through March 2005, there were 155 drug seizures at the Fabens Border Patrol Station, totaling over 43,000 pounds of marijuana. In none of those seizures was a gun found. Over the longer period between October 1, 2001, and February 15, 2006, the Fabens Border Patrol Station reported the seizure of only one firearm from a total of 496 drug seizures, totaling more than 131,000 pounds of marijuana. This is not to say Border Patrol agentsí jobs are not difficult and dangerous, or that drug smugglers are never armed, but it is inaccurate and misleading to assert that all drug smugglers are armed. The fact is that drug mules in El Paso almost never carry guns." [emphases added]
I would ask you to pay particular attention to the last sentence of the paragraph above that I have highlighted. The sentence is extremely important because it represents the sort of misleading statements that, in my experience, the bad guys often use in order to alter perceptions of reality by stating something that is but itself true, but represents a distortion of reality. Aldrete Davila was a smuggler and not a mule. In the parlance of illegal aliens, smugglers and law enforcement officials, mules are illegal aliens who are, in one way or another coerced into carrying narcotics on their bodies. They are never armed because they themselves are a part of the cargo or load that the smuggler or coyote is paid to move across the border into the United States. Smugglers are not mules. By making that statement, Sutton stated a fact that is true when taken by itself, therefore he was not committing perjury before the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is important because had he openly lied, he could have himself been prosecuted for perjury. So he uses an inappropriate term that does not truly describe the nature of Aldrete Davila's activities, comparing him to a mule rather than a smuggler or coyote which is in reality what he was on the day of the incident. Smugglers would no more provide a mule with a gun then would a law enforcement officer provide a prisoner with a gun. This is a point that, to my knowledge has never been made before but is one that is well worth considering.
You can read the entire transcript of the hearing by clicking here.
Now we come to the Washington Times news article. It is amazing that just three weeks before the appeals for the convictions of Ramos and Compean are to be heard that Sutton suddenly indicts Aldrete Davila. Why did he wait nearly two years to do this? Only he truly can answer that question. The point is that while Ramos and Compean may have mishandled the incident, in my judgement, they should never have been prosecuted for criminal violations and certainly they should never have been charged with the additional charge of possessing a firearm in the commission of a crime. Many members of the United States Congress and Senate are in agreement about this.
I have been to the Mexican border and it is a perilous place to be. There are numerous reports of armed criminals and indeed, members of the Mexican military who are heavily armed moving significant distances into our country apparently shepherding significant loads of narcotics into our country. We also know that our nation is the focus of terrorists who would want to enter our country, possibly with weapons of mass destruction to carry out attacks on our nation and our citizens. The outrageous prosecution of these two valiant Border Patrol agents did more than put these two men and their families through a living hell, it also served a message to their colleagues in the Border Patrol that when they go to work each day, they may not only lose their lives to the violent smugglers and criminals that easily cross our nation's borders, but they may lose their jobs and their freedom to the very government that employs them.
The apparently malicious prosecution of Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean represents a threat to the safety and security of the United States and its citizens, because it has to have a chilling effect on the other valiant members of the United States Border Patrol.
The administration has had an abysmal track record where the security of our nation's borders and the enforcement of our nation's immigration laws are concerned. Johnny Sutton is a long-time friend of the President going back to the days before George W. Bush even ran for the Presidency. This administration has consistently failed to take common sense steps to secure the borders and provide the resources to get this critical job done.
I have no direct knowledge about the final sentence in that Washington Times article concerning a statement attributed to a defense attorney for Ramos: "David Botsford, an attorney for Ramos, said that based on Mr. Sutton's news release and Aldrete Davila's testimony, it appears Aldrete Davila was smuggling "large quantities of marijuana into the United States" with a visa issued by the Department of Homeland Security." Certainly if this is accurate it raises extremely disturbing questions about integrity at DHS, an agency I have unfortunately seen fit to refer to as the Department of Homeland Surrender.
It is time that Ramos and Compean were released from prison and that they be pardoned and compensated by this clear miscarriage of justice.
the People should make our concerns known to our elected representatives
and to the White House as well!
© 2007 - Michael Cutler
- All Rights Reserved
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Michael W. Cutler graduated from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1971 with a B.A. in Communications Arts and Sciences. Mr. Cutler began working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in October 1971 when he entered on duty as an Immigration Inspector assigned to John F. Kennedy International Airport. In August 1975 he became a Criminal Investigator (Special Agent) for the INS at NYC.
He rotated through virtually every squad in the Investigations Branch. From 1988 until 1991 he was assigned as the INS representative to the Unified Intelligence Division (UID) of the DEA in New York. In 1991 he was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and was assigned to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) which required that he work with members of other law enforcement agencies including the FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Customs and local and state police as well as law enforcement organizations of other countries including Israel, Canada, Great Britain and Japan, to conduct investigations of aliens involved in major drug trafficking organizations. He retired from the INS in February 2002, after a career that spanned some 30 years.
Finally, Michael Cutler has appeared on numerous television and radio programs including Lou Dobbs, Fox News, MSNBC and many other television and radio news-oriented programs to discuss the enforcement of immigration laws.
"David Botsford, an attorney for Ramos, said that based on Mr. Sutton's news release and Aldrete Davila's testimony, it appears Aldrete Davila was smuggling "large quantities of marijuana into the United States" with a visa issued by the Department of Homeland Security."