Senator Feinstein Urges Chairman Leahy to Continue Judiciary Committee Investigation into Prosecution of Border Patrol Agents
Feb 07 2007
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) urging him to continue an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the prosecution and sentencing of Border Patrol Agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos.
Senator Feinstein also raised concerns about the recent report that Agent Ramos had been beaten while serving his sentence in federal prison.
Last year, Senator Feinstein asked then-Chairman Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) to conduct an investigation into the case, which involves the shooting of a drug smuggler by the two border agents. A Committee investigation began shortly thereafter but was never completed.
The following is the text of Senator Feinstein’s letter to Chairman Leahy:
February 6, 2007
The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Leahy:
At my request, last Congress then-Chairman Specter began a Committee investigation into the case involving Border Patrol Agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos. However, to my knowledge it was never completed. I am writing to you now to request that you continue the investigation and complete the Committee's work.
As you may know, Agents Compean and Ramos were convicted in March 2006, and sentenced in October 2006, to 12 and 11 years in prison, respectively, for shooting at Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila. Mr. Aldrete-Davila was a drug smuggler who had driven a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana across the Mexican border into Texas. He was shot while fleeing from the Agents in an attempt to cross the border back into Mexico and avoid apprehension. Additionally, Mr. Aldrete-Davila was not seriously injured.
I strongly believe that the sentences in this case are too extreme given the criminal nature of the defendant and his possession of large quantities of drugs, and given the fact that Mr. Aldrete-Davila had physically resisted at least one attempt by Agents Ramos and Compean to bring him into custody.
In addition, to my knowledge, neither of the Agents had prior convictions or any other aggravating circumstances to warrant particularly harsh treatment under the law. Yet, these men were given sentences that some individuals who are convicted of murder wouldn't receive.
Even more disturbing, I have recently learned that Agent Ramos was beaten by other inmates in prison this past Saturday while serving his term. Along with examining the sentencing of the Agents, I urge the Committee to look into why these Agents are not being protected while in the federal prison system. It is not hard to predict that two Federal Agents would be targeted in a prison population and that special precautions should be employed to ensure their safety.
Border Patrol Agents have a difficult and often dangerous job in guarding our nation's borders. I believe that aggressive prosecution of Border Patrol Agents has a chilling effect on their ability to carry out their duties and on the morale of all agents. I also believe that if wrong doing does occur, ensuring fair and safe treatment is essential. I am extremely concerned about how this case continues to unfold and I hope you will finish the Committee's work investigating this case.
United States Senator