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Drug Smuggler Shot by Agents Indicted

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EL PASO, Texas - An admitted Mexican drug dealer shot by a pair of U.S. Border Patrol agents who were later convicted in the shooting has been charged with smuggling marijuana, authorities said Thursday.

Osvaldo Aldrete Davila was arrested Thursday at an international port of entry in El Paso, according to U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.

A sealed indictment issued in October accused him of committing the crimes in September and October of 2005, several months after he was shot in the buttocks while fleeing from a pair of Border Patrol agents.

The agents, Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, were convicted last year of shooting Aldrete and lying about it. The agents were each sentenced to more than a decade in prison.

Aldrete is scheduled to appear in federal court in El Paso on Friday.

Sutton noted that critics of the prosecution of the agents have complained that Aldrete, "the fleeing, unarmed drug smuggler they shot," should have been prosecuted.

"I have repeatedly said that if we obtained sufficient competent and admissible evidence against Aldrete, we would prosecute him," Sutton said in a statement.

Aldrete's shooting and the subsequent arrest and conviction of the agents caused a furor among conservative lawmakers and others. Critics of Sutton have repeatedly called the prosecution unjustified and the sentences extreme.

Aldrete is charged with possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, conspiracy to import a controlled substance and conspiracy with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

If convicted, Aldrete faces up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine.

Joe Loya, Ramos' father-in-law, said the indictment was not surprising. "He is a career criminal who has been smuggling drugs since he was 14," Loya said. "Who I really feel sorry for is his wife and children."

Opponents of the prosecution against Ramos and Compean have previously argued that Sutton's office ignored evidence that Aldrete, who acknowledged smuggling drugs the day he was shot in February, 2005, had smuggled drugs a second time.

Aldrete was given immunity for the first smuggling attempt to testify against the agents.

According to testimony at the agents' trial, Aldrete encountered agents after crossing illegally into the U.S. from Mexico in a marijuana-loaded van. While fleeing from agents, he crashed the van and tried to run back to Mexico on foot.

Before he could make it back across the Rio Grande, Aldrete struggled with Compean, who later fired more than a dozen shots at the fleeing man. Ramos fired a single shot after finding Compean on the ground, shooting at Aldrete.

It was Ramos' bullet that hit Aldrete.

Compean testified at trial that he shot in self-defense and fighting with Aldrete and then seeing what he believed to be a gun in Aldrete's hand. Ramos said he fired in defense of Compean.

Aldrete, who was severely wounded but managed to flee back around the river, denied having a gun and testified that he ran from Compean after the agent tried to hit him with the butt of a shotgun.

Both agents acknowledged not reporting the incident. The agents began serving their sentences in January.

Source: Bismarck Tribune (ND)
Copyright: 2007 The Bismarck Tribune
Contact: Bismarck Tribune Online
Website: BismarckTribune.com | Bismarck, North Dakota News
 
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