No Country for Honorable Men: The Prosecution of the “Border Patrol Two”

The prosecution of, and harsh sentences meted out to, two Border Patrol agents involved in a shooting incident at the Texas-Mexico border tell us all we really need to know about the Bush administration’s plans to erase U.S. borders once and for all.

On February 17, 2005, Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos responded to a request for backup from fellow agent Jose Compean.  Compean had noticed a suspicious van driving along the levee road at the Rio Grande near Fabens, Texas (about 40 miles east of El Paso)—an area frequented by drug smugglers.  Ramos drove toward Fabens, following a third agent already headed for the scene.

Their quarry was one Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, who was transporting 700-800 pounds of marijuana into Texas.  With the pursuers closing in, Aldrete-Davila jumped from the van and made a run for it—only to meet Compean, who had anticipated the drug smuggler’s next move, at the levee.  An altercation ensued.  At one point, Aldrete-Davila raised his hands as if to surrender, but Compean slipped in the mud at the levee (perhaps while taking an unsuccessful swing at the suspect with the butt of a rifle or shotgun—a point prosecutors would make a lot of at the trial), and the suspect ran, heading back toward Mexico.

Ramos claimed that, as he approached, he saw Aldrete-Davila fleeing and Compean on the...

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