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11-30-07, 06:51 PM #1Corporal
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Man shot by agents continued to smuggle
Testimony: Man shot by agents continued to smuggle
By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 11/29/2007 02:02:44 PM MST
The day Osvaldo Aldrete Davila was shot in the buttock while running back to Mexico in 2005 was not the last time he was chased by the Border Patrol and not the last time he delivered drugs in the United States that year, a witness said at a hearing today.
Robert Holguin, a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent said on the stand that three men had identified Aldrete as a habitual drug smuggler.
Two of these men where only referred to as "Source 2," a drug smuggler and "Source 3," a friend not involved in drug smuggling. They allegedly told DEA investigators that Aldrete tried, unsuccessfully, to smuggle marijuana on Sept. 24, 2005, and again, successfully, on Oct. 22, 2005.
"Davila's friend stated that Davila stated he was a transporter for a smuggling ring," Agent Holguin said during a bond hearing today for Aldrete.
U.S. District Judge Richard P. Mesa postponed his decision for a few weeks because Aldrete's lawyer, Ruben Hernandez, said he wanted to add documentary evidence to the file. Hernandez did not say what this evidence was.
Aldrete testified for the U.S. Attorney's office in the case against El Paso Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, the two agents who shot him Feb. 17, 2005. Ramos and Compean were convicted of violating Aldrete's civil rights and of tampering with evidence because they did not report the shooting and because Compean picked up his shell casings.
Aldrete, who had been driving a van loaded with marijuana near the river levee before he started running, was offered immunity for his testimony. The immunity covered only his activities during the Feb. 17 incident. He was also given permission to cross into the United States to meet with prosecutors, testify and get medical attention before and during the 2006 trial.
The shooting left him with a severed urethra and Aldrete had been urinating through a plastic tube sticking out of his belly button and connected to a plastic bag he carried with him.
According to Agent Holguin's sworn testimony, Aldrete continued to smuggle drugs, despite his medical condition and his deal with the U.S. government.
Source 2 described how he and Aldrete allegedly worked together Oct. 22, 2005, to bring in 750 pounds of marijuana. In Holguin's words, Source 2 was a lookout, using a two-way radio to coordinate the meeting of backpackers carrying the drugs across the river and Aldrete picking up the loads in a van on the U.S. side.
"Once the coast was clear, he would send the back-packers," Holguin said.
Aldrete allegedly drove that load in a 1990 Chevy Astro van to the Clint trailer of Cipriano Ortiz, whose house was subsequently raided by the DEA. Ortiz, who pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges, identified Aldrete as the man who delivered the drugs.
Source 3, a friend of Aldrete in the United States, described to the authorities a prior smuggling instance.
On Sept. 24, 2005, Aldrete allegedly stopped by his friend's house in a white Ford Econoline and took out the rear seats, allegedly saying he needed to make room for a load of drugs he was going to pick up, according to Holguin testimony.
Later that day, Aldrete allegedly called his friend.
"He said everything had gone bad," Holguin said, the Border Patrol had chased him and he had fled on foot to Mexico.
The van, abandoned in an orchard, was seized by the Border Patrol. Inside, agents found 1,029 pounds of marijuana. Holguin testified that the DEA were able to tie that smuggling attempt to Aldrete only this year.
Holguin also said the friend's mother gave DEA agents the registration and title for the van, which she said Aldrete gave her.
Hernandez, Aldrete's lawyer, questioned the strength of the government's evidence against his client during cross examination.
"In essence, what you have is individuals telling you something," Hernandez said.
"That's correct," Holguin said.
"That's all you have," Hernandez said.
Inocenta Montoya, a Fabens woman who said she was a cousin of Aldrete's wife, testified on his behalf, saying she was willing to let him stay at her house if he was given bond. But prosecutors said Aldrete was a flight risk because he has no ties to the United States and should be denied bond.
Holguin testified that Aldrete did not surrender when he was arrested Nov. 15 at the Zaragoza Bridge but had to be lured.
"It was a ruse. He was told he was going to receive a border crossing card or something to that effect," he said.
Hernandez said that the same investigator for Homeland Security Office of Inspector General who had been Aldrete's handler during the Ramos-Compean prosecution called Aldrete and said, "Meet me at the bridge. We'll help you with medical attention." Hernandez also said Aldrete was brought in the United States for a doctor's visit Nov. 6 but did not offer more details.
In a previous interview in Mexico, Aldrete had said he was desperate to get his urinary bag changed and hoped he could one day get an operation to repair his urethra, but did not have the money to do either.
Louie Gilot may be reached at email@example.com; 546-6131
11-30-07, 06:58 PM #2
Why does this not surprise me, yet the BP Agent is still in big trouble...............................................
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