President Trump pardoned two former U.S. Border Patrol agents involved in the chase and shooting of a Mexican drug cartel drug mule who brought more than half a million dollars in marijuana across the border in 2005.
Though they were on the list of pardons, the pre-Christmas clemencies were little noticed by the media.
The case of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean exploded into public consciousness during their trial, when federal prosecutors gave the drug dealer – a Mexican national – immunity to testify against the border agents. The agents were each sentenced to more than ten years in prison for shooting at him–a shooting which they never officially noted in their reports of the case.
The case of Ramos and Compean became a cause celebre in conservative media, among them former CNN host Lou Dobbs, and with congressional representatives who took the U.S. attorney and Bush administration to task for punishing the border agents while setting free the illegal alien drug courier in exchange for testimony.
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But the case of Ramos and Compeon was much more intricate, it turned out.
The drug courier, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, driving a van load of marijuana, took border agents on a wild chase, abandoned the Ford Econoline van, and then tried to run back across the border in the El Paso border sector. Ramos, Compean, and another agent caught up with him and held him. But Compean testified that the courier rushed him and he took the butt of his shotgun to move him back and fell into a ditch. The courier was turning to run away when he was shot in his left buttock, according to The Texas Monthly.
As Aldrete-Davila sprinted across the last stretch of American soil, Compean, who had never fired his gun in the line of duty, pulled out his .40-caliber pistol and started shooting. When he missed, he reloaded and tried again, firing a total of fourteen times. Aldrete-Davila kept running, and as he approached the river’s edge, Ramos–who had crossed the ditch to come to his colleague’s aid–fired his first and only shot. The force of the bullet, which entered Aldrete-Davila’s left buttock, knocked him to the ground.
Stories varied, but both agents said they assumed their bosses knew of the shooting, yet never wrote about it in their reports of the wild car and foot chases. Compean picked up his brass. They later testified they thought the bad guy had a gun, prompting the shooting.
The Monthly reported that the outrage over the case came later during the trial, when it was discovered that the U.S. attorneys office in Texas granted immunity to the drug courier and paid for an operation to extract the only piece of evidence they had – the bullet in the side of the bad guy’s buttock. It matched Ramos’s gun.
Outrage went supernova when it was reported that the cartel mule would be set free while the agents would go to prison.
The El Paso Times reports that the feds threw the book at the agents.
The trial lasted two weeks, and the jury found Ramos and Compean guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with serious bodily injury, discharge of a firearm in commission of a crime of violence, tampering with an official proceeding and deprivation of rights under the color of law.
The agents were found not guilty of assault with intent to commit murder and aiding and abetting.
The agents were fired after their convictions. All their convictions, except obstruction of justice, were upheld on appeal.
Compean and Ramos went to prison. Ramos was later beaten by inmates. The two officers spent two years in prison before their sentences were commuted by President George W. Bush as he left office in 2009.
Now President Trump has wiped their records clean.
When he got word that they were pardoned and their prosecutions expunged, Ramos wrote on his Facebook page:
The news came out 2 days ago. Many of you congratulated me. And as much as I wanted to just scream at the top of my lungs I had to sit back and let it sink in. More importantly, I had to wait for this confirmation right here. It’s still pretty surreal but the day has finally arrived and it made it the best Christmas ever.
So to President Trump, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my family, my sincerest thanks.
To my wife, Monica Loya Ramos, you have shown a strength, loyalty and resolve few others would have shown. I’m a lucky man to have you by my side.
To my boys who never let this be an excuse to take short cuts for things you never had because of this. You remembered everything you were taught and you stayed true. You’ve done your mother and me proud.
To my father in law, Joe Loya who for 2 years kept rallying, making sure we weren’t forgotten and still watched over my family making sure they were ok and never did without.
And of course a special thank you to all those that supported us. The list is to long to list individually but many of you are family to us and will forever be in our hearts. So whether it was showing up at the numerous rally that took place, through donations or just a phone call. You helped us make through a long 2 years. And if you were one of the ones that sent the thousands of letters I received while in prison. You helped keep me strong and helped shorten my days.
And lastly, but most importantly, to to of 2 most important people in my life that aren’t here to share this with me. My dad Ignacio Ramos Sr. and Will Sundermann. I love and miss you both so very much. And I don’t doubt for one minute you both had a direct hand in this.
So Merry Christmas to everyone. I pray it was a happy and safe one for everyone. May 2021 be a happy, safe and prosperous new year for us all.”
A messy but happy ending.