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Corruption Chronicles

Border Patrol Agents Excluded From Pardon List Again

For the second time this year President George W. Bush has pardoned a variety of criminals while ignoring pleas from lawmakers and the public to free two jailed U.S. Border Patrol agents who intercepted an illegal immigrant drug smuggler at the Texas-Mexico border.

This week the president pardoned 29 convicts, including carjackers, drug dealers and a violator of federal election laws. Among the forgiven is a Florida man jailed for distributing cocaine, a Georgia man sentenced for stealing a car and a Vermont man convicted for receiving illegal kickbacks in defense procurement contracts.

Evidently the president and his advisors believe these offenders, and a separate group pardoned earlier this year, deserve freedom more than a pair of federal agents protecting their country. Among the criminals Bush pardoned in January were several drug dealers and a man convicted for bombing a coal mine.

In the meantime, a pair of veteran Border Patrol agents—Ignacio Ramos and Jose Campean—with impeccable work records sit in prison for doing their job. In February 2005 they intercepted a van loaded with 743 pounds of marijuana at the Mexican border near El Paso.

The admitted drug smuggler, an illegal alien named Osvaldo Davila, tried to flee and one of the agents shot him in the buttocks though he still got away and hid in Mexico. Federal prosecutors actually went to Mexico and offered the drug dealer immunity to testify against the Border Patrol agents who were subsequently convicted (and sentenced to 11 and 12-year prison terms) on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon and violating the drug smuggler’s civil rights.

Last month Davila, a multiple offender, was finally indicted and arrested for possessing and distributing drugs. The confident and cocky Davila actually smuggled more than 220 pounds of marijuana through the same El Paso port of entry where Ramos and Campean had previously intercepted his 753-pound stash. The incident occurred months after he testified, protected by immunity, against the imprisoned officers.

Even before the drug smuggler’s inevitable arrest, lawmakers from both parties were outraged that the agents were imprisoned and one congressman actually called the convictions a travesty of justice beyond description. The White House has received dozens of requests for presidential pardons from members of Congress and hundreds of thousands of additional requests from outraged citizens who feel the agents have been wrongly punished for doing their job.


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