On December 1 south of Tucson, Arizona, drug smugglers unloaded $1 million in drugs across the U.S. border and sprayed bullets at U.S. Border Patrol agents with automatic weapons. The agents did not return fire. They fear losing their jobs or ending up behind bars like agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.
Former decorated border agents, Ramos and Compean are serving lengthy prison sentences for shooting an illegal alien drug dealer while he smuggled 750 pounds of marijuana across the border. They were convicted of assault, discharge of a weapon in the commission of a crime of violence and deprivation of civil rights after the drug dealer was given immunity from prosecution.
On December 22 President Bush issued 19 pardons and commuted one sentence, but has issued none as yet for Ramos and Compean. Lawmakers and many others have asked Bush to commute their prison sentences. Bush will leave office January 20.
'Any kind of shooting toward Mexican territory is rejected by the Mexican government,' Mexican Consul General Remedios Gómez Arnau warned Border Patrol agents.
After this month's incident, an anonymous officer said that agents often fear defending themselves because shooting back could mean prison time – just as it did for Ramos and Compean.
'These men are still in prison for doing what many of us think was just doing their jobs as Border Patrol agents,' he said.