WASHINGTON, D.C. – Remarkably, the State Department took 10 years, responding in October this year to a FOIA request made on Nov. 30, 2007, regarding the 2005 case involving Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean.
Even more frustrating, the State Department FOIA response provided nothing of value as if to suggest State Department files had no communication with Mexico regarding the drug smuggler involved in the case, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila.
On Oct. 4, 2017, the author received from the State Department a 16-page response to the 2007 FOIA that consisted largely of two news articles published at the time, plus a series of emails from various State Department officials in Washington as well as in Mexico asking one another if there was any information in their files relevant to the case.
All of the State Department emails delivered in 2017 from the 2007 FOIA request were dated 2007, strongly suggesting the FOIA request sat in the State Department for 10 years even though the search for documents in the Ramos-Compean case had terminated within the State Department ten years earlier.
Judicial Watch Stonewalled
In 2007, Judicial Watch reported being stonewalled as well, getting no response from three separate FOIA requests filed with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the State Department on the Ramos-Compean case.
Finally, on March 16, 2007, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, naming DHS and DOJ as defendants, in an attempt to force disclosure of U.S. government documents relevant to the case.
On Feb. 25, 2009, Judicial Watch earned a court victory when U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ordered the government to turn over the documents or explain clearly why the documents were being withheld.
Specifically, Judicial Watch demanded the release of the following documents that the United States government even today, 12 years after the initial incident on the border, continues to keep secret from the public:
- Communications between the State Department and any/all officers, agencies, and representatives of the Government of Mexico concerning Osbaldo Aldrete Davila, a Mexican national who testified in the prosecution of U.S. Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean over a shooting incident in Texas on Feb. 17, 2005;
- Communications between the State Department and the U.S. Department of Justice (to include the office of U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton of the Western District of Texas) and/or the Department of Homeland Security (and its subordinate agencies) concerning Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, a Mexican national who testified in the prosecution of Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean; and
- The participation of Department of State personnel in coordinating, facilitating, and/or approving the lawful entry of Oswaldo Aldrete-Davila into the United States (reportedly for the last time in February 2006) to obtain medical treatment and to meet with federal investigators in preparation for his testimony given in court in El Paso, Texas.
Bush commutes Border Patrol Agent sentences
On his last day in office, Jan. 19, 2009, President George W. Bush commuted the sentences of Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean.
Ramos and Compean have been confined solitary confinement in federal prison Since Jan. 17, 2007, serving 11- and 12- years respectively for a 2005 incident in Fabens, Texas, during which Ramos and Compean fired on Aldrete-Davila as he fled back into Mexico after smuggling 743 pounds of marijuana into the U.S. near Fabens, Texas.
At the time of the commutation, Aldrete-Davila was serving a 9 ½ year sentence in federal prison for bringing a second load of approximately 750 pounds of marijuana across the border with Mexico in 2005, while he had immunity from Sutton for testifying at the Ramos and Compean trial.
In a controversial ruling during the Ramos and Compean trial, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone denied a Ramos and Compean motion to question Aldrete-Davila about the “second load,” allowing Aldrete-Davila to testify at trial that he was an inexperienced drug dealer who only committed the offense involving Ramos and Compean because his mother was sick and needed medicine he could not afford because he had lost his Mexican commercial driver’s license.
That Aldrete-Davila had lied to U.S. federal investigators became clear after reporters discovered that he held a then-valid Mexican driver’s license on Feb. 17, 2005, the day he committed the drug-smuggling incident that precipitated Border Patrol agents firing their weapons to prevent him from escaping back across the Mexican border.
During the Ramos-Compean trial, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton in prosecuting the case hid from the jury and from the public the fact that Aldrete-Davila had been arrested in the United States in a 1,000-pound marijuana drug bust that occurred just prior to the beginning of the Ramos-Compean trial in October 2005.
Sutton also hid from the jury and the public that Aldrete-Davila had been taken at government expense to a U.S. government hospital in El Paso, Texas, for surgery needed to remove the bullet from shooting in a medical procedure that required a urethra to be installed.
When reporters proved the Mexican government had demanded the Bush administration prosecute Ramos and Compean, allegedly for shooting an unnamed Mexican who was trying to retreat across the border to Mexico, various members of Congress were outraged.
“I have long suspected that Mexican government officials ordered the prosecution of our law enforcement agents,” Congressman John Culberson (R – TX) said. Mexico wants to intimidate our law enforcement into leaving our border unprotected, and we now have confirmation of it in writing.”
Congressman Ted Poe (R – TX) was equally outraged.
“The Mexican government should do more to keep illegals from Mexico from crossing into the United States,” said. “especially drug dealers, rather than be concerned about our border agents. The U.S. Justice Department should not be working for the Mexican government.