DEA Report Shows Terrorists Teaming up with Drug Cartels


Cross Posted from Wake up America

[Update] First a big thank you to to Robert Stacy McCain,Assistant National Editor/Culture, Etc., Washington Times, for the email with a link to this update.

A Texas congressman today demanded a hearing based on recent reports that Islamic terrorists embedded in the United States are teaming with Mexican drug cartels to fund terror networks overseas.

Rep. John Culberson, Texas Republican, said the Drug Enforcement Agency document — first reported in today’s editions of The Washington Times — revealed startling evidence that Islamic radicals are camouflaging themselves as Hispanic persons while conducting business with violent drug-trafficking organizations.

“I have been ringing the bell about this serious threat of Islamic individuals changing their surnames to Hispanic surnames for three to four years,” Mr. Culberson said. “Unfortunately, Homeland Security’s highest priority is to hide the truth from Congress and the public. I just hope we’re not closing the barn door after terrorists have already made their way in.”

Go read the rest, at least someone is finally, after YEARS, taking this threat seriously. Now lets see if anything gets done about. [End Update]

Not a big surprise here, but at least it is being acknowledged by the Drug Enforcement Agency now.

From Washington Times:

Islamic extremists embedded in the United States — posing as Hispanic nationals — are partnering with violent Mexican drug gangs to finance terror networks in the Middle East, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration report.

“Since drug traffickers and terrorists operate in a clandestine environment, both groups utilize similar methodologies to function … all lend themselves to facilitation and are among the essential elements that may contribute to the successful conclusion of a catastrophic event by terrorists,” said the confidential report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.

The 2005 report outlines an ongoing scheme in which multiple Middle Eastern drug-trafficking and terrorist cells operating in the U.S. fund terror networks overseas, aided by established Mexican cartels with highly sophisticated trafficking routes.

These terrorist groups, or sleeper cells, include people who speak Arabic, Spanish and Hebrew and, for the most part, arouse no suspicion in their communities.

“It is very likely that any future ‘September 11th’ type of terrorist event in the United States may be facilitated, wittingly or unwittingly, by drug traffickers operating on both sides of the United States-Mexico border,” the DEA report says.

I do not know how many times we have to scream at the Senate, the Congress and our Administration to secure our damn borders. But we need to continue to yell in their ears about this until they finally listen and get up off their asses and do it.

Rep. Ed Royce of California, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs terrorism and nonproliferation subcommittee, said the DEA document substantiates information that his committee has been given in the past year.

“Hearings I held in Laredo [Texas] last year and this DEA report show that our southern border is a terrorist risk,” Mr. Royce said. “Law enforcement has warned that people from Arab countries have crossed the border and adopted Hispanic surnames. The drug cartels have highly sophisticated smuggling and money-laundering networks, which terrorists could access.”

Do we really really have a suicide wish or was 9/11 and previous attacks not enough for these people to understand that our borders are our weakest link in National Security?

The JunkYard Blog has an update from SeeDub:

UPDATE by Seedub: Geoff beat me to the punch on this article, which you should really frickin’ read because it’s got drug dealers and terrorists and WMD’s and illegal aliens running who knows what over the Mexican border. Every right wing blogger out there ought to be able to come up with something about this.

I really do know why they are waiting to deal with our border issue, firmly and decisively, once and for all.

Back in 2004, we knew that Mexico was on the lookout for terrorists trying to cross the Mexican border.

HERMOSILLO, Sonora – As concern rises that terrorists could be hidden among thousands of illegal immigrants heading into the United States through Mexico, immigration officers in Sonora find themselves on the front lines.

Let us not forget that in November 2004, we saw that our Feds feared that terrorists would smuggle nuclear and other types of weapon across our open borders.

TUCSON – Authorities are concerned al-Qaida or other terrorist groups could conspire with smuggling organizations to bring weapons of mass destruction across the Arizona border, an immigration official has said.

Fear that terrorists might attempt to bring in nuclear weapons or other terror instruments was one reason U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks – “to try to combat that type of smuggling that could be used by terrorists as well as other criminals,” Michael Turner said. Turner oversees the ICE offices in Phoenix and Tucson.

We have also seen in 2006 that terrorists were learning spanish to be able to cross the U.S./Mexico border as well as working with drug cartels.

The Texas Sheriffs’ Border Coalition reports that these Muslim men are likely terrorists who are being assisted by the Mexican military and Mexican drug cartels. Also, CNS reports: “Iranian currency, military badges in Arabic, jackets and other clothing are among the items that have been discovered along the banks of the Rio Grande River.”

November of 2006, we even had reports of an al-Qaeda leader telling us that they were smugging in “dangerous materials” across the Mexican border.

According to the Pakistani reporter, Dawood said Brother Adnan “had smuggled some dangerous materials from the Mexican border to inside the United States of America.”

“It’s the kind of scenario that worries everybody,” says Fred Burton, a former special agent for the U.S. State Department.

Burton spent much of his federal career studying terrorists, predicting their next move. He now does the same thing at Stratfor, a private intelligence agency in Austin.

NEWSCHANNEL 5 asked Burton about the threat.

“I think it has to be viewed credible, until proven otherwise,” he says.

The former special agent tells us the U.S. government is well aware Al Qaeda’s been working hard to get a dirty bomb into the country, an explosive packed with nuclear materials small enough to carry in a suitcase.

Smugglers have been caught 300 times in the past four years trying to sneak in radioactive material, which could be used to make a dirty bomb.

The examples go one and on and on, so I ask again, why are our borders still wide open?

I appreciate that U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has joined several Republican colleagues in introducing the “Border Security First Act of 2007” as an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill.

I appreciate that the bill passed, providing $3 billion dollars are being provided for the following:

Operational control over 100% of the U.S.-Mexico land border

23,000 Border Patrol agents hired, trained, and reporting for duty

4 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles & 105 ground-based radar and camera towers

300 miles of vehicle barriers & 700 miles of border fencing

A permanent end to the “catch-and-release” policy with 45,000 detention beds.

What has not been answered is when and if all of this will be applied and done.

More from Right Truth and Hot Air and more buzz at memeorandum.

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DEA Report Shows Terrorists Teaming up with Drug Cartels


Cross Posted from Wake up America

[Update] First a big thank you to to Robert Stacy McCain,Assistant National Editor/Culture, Etc., Washington Times, for the email with a link to this update.

A Texas congressman today demanded a hearing based on recent reports that Islamic terrorists embedded in the United States are teaming with Mexican drug cartels to fund terror networks overseas.

Rep. John Culberson, Texas Republican, said the Drug Enforcement Agency document — first reported in today’s editions of The Washington Times — revealed startling evidence that Islamic radicals are camouflaging themselves as Hispanic persons while conducting business with violent drug-trafficking organizations.

“I have been ringing the bell about this serious threat of Islamic individuals changing their surnames to Hispanic surnames for three to four years,” Mr. Culberson said. “Unfortunately, Homeland Security’s highest priority is to hide the truth from Congress and the public. I just hope we’re not closing the barn door after terrorists have already made their way in.”

Go read the rest, at least someone is finally, after YEARS, taking this threat seriously. Now lets see if anything gets done about. [End Update]

Not a big surprise here, but at least it is being acknowledged by the Drug Enforcement Agency now.

From Washington Times:

Islamic extremists embedded in the United States — posing as Hispanic nationals — are partnering with violent Mexican drug gangs to finance terror networks in the Middle East, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration report.

“Since drug traffickers and terrorists operate in a clandestine environment, both groups utilize similar methodologies to function … all lend themselves to facilitation and are among the essential elements that may contribute to the successful conclusion of a catastrophic event by terrorists,” said the confidential report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.

The 2005 report outlines an ongoing scheme in which multiple Middle Eastern drug-trafficking and terrorist cells operating in the U.S. fund terror networks overseas, aided by established Mexican cartels with highly sophisticated trafficking routes.

These terrorist groups, or sleeper cells, include people who speak Arabic, Spanish and Hebrew and, for the most part, arouse no suspicion in their communities.

“It is very likely that any future ‘September 11th’ type of terrorist event in the United States may be facilitated, wittingly or unwittingly, by drug traffickers operating on both sides of the United States-Mexico border,” the DEA report says.

I do not know how many times we have to scream at the Senate, the Congress and our Administration to secure our damn borders. But we need to continue to yell in their ears about this until they finally listen and get up off their asses and do it.

Rep. Ed Royce of California, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs terrorism and nonproliferation subcommittee, said the DEA document substantiates information that his committee has been given in the past year.

“Hearings I held in Laredo [Texas] last year and this DEA report show that our southern border is a terrorist risk,” Mr. Royce said. “Law enforcement has warned that people from Arab countries have crossed the border and adopted Hispanic surnames. The drug cartels have highly sophisticated smuggling and money-laundering networks, which terrorists could access.”

Do we really really have a suicide wish or was 9/11 and previous attacks not enough for these people to understand that our borders are our weakest link in National Security?

The JunkYard Blog has an update from SeeDub:

UPDATE by Seedub: Geoff beat me to the punch on this article, which you should really frickin’ read because it’s got drug dealers and terrorists and WMD’s and illegal aliens running who knows what over the Mexican border. Every right wing blogger out there ought to be able to come up with something about this.

I really do know why they are waiting to deal with our border issue, firmly and decisively, once and for all.

Back in 2004, we knew that Mexico was on the lookout for terrorists trying to cross the Mexican border.

HERMOSILLO, Sonora – As concern rises that terrorists could be hidden among thousands of illegal immigrants heading into the United States through Mexico, immigration officers in Sonora find themselves on the front lines.

Let us not forget that in November 2004, we saw that our Feds feared that terrorists would smuggle nuclear and other types of weapon across our open borders.

TUCSON – Authorities are concerned al-Qaida or other terrorist groups could conspire with smuggling organizations to bring weapons of mass destruction across the Arizona border, an immigration official has said.

Fear that terrorists might attempt to bring in nuclear weapons or other terror instruments was one reason U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks – “to try to combat that type of smuggling that could be used by terrorists as well as other criminals,” Michael Turner said. Turner oversees the ICE offices in Phoenix and Tucson.

We have also seen in 2006 that terrorists were learning spanish to be able to cross the U.S./Mexico border as well as working with drug cartels.

The Texas Sheriffs’ Border Coalition reports that these Muslim men are likely terrorists who are being assisted by the Mexican military and Mexican drug cartels. Also, CNS reports: “Iranian currency, military badges in Arabic, jackets and other clothing are among the items that have been discovered along the banks of the Rio Grande River.”

November of 2006, we even had reports of an al-Qaeda leader telling us that they were smugging in “dangerous materials” across the Mexican border.

According to the Pakistani reporter, Dawood said Brother Adnan “had smuggled some dangerous materials from the Mexican border to inside the United States of America.”

“It’s the kind of scenario that worries everybody,” says Fred Burton, a former special agent for the U.S. State Department.

Burton spent much of his federal career studying terrorists, predicting their next move. He now does the same thing at Stratfor, a private intelligence agency in Austin.

NEWSCHANNEL 5 asked Burton about the threat.

“I think it has to be viewed credible, until proven otherwise,” he says.

The former special agent tells us the U.S. government is well aware Al Qaeda’s been working hard to get a dirty bomb into the country, an explosive packed with nuclear materials small enough to carry in a suitcase.

Smugglers have been caught 300 times in the past four years trying to sneak in radioactive material, which could be used to make a dirty bomb.

The examples go one and on and on, so I ask again, why are our borders still wide open?

I appreciate that U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has joined several Republican colleagues in introducing the “Border Security First Act of 2007” as an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill.

I appreciate that the bill passed, providing $3 billion dollars are being provided for the following:

Operational control over 100% of the U.S.-Mexico land border

23,000 Border Patrol agents hired, trained, and reporting for duty

4 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles & 105 ground-based radar and camera towers

300 miles of vehicle barriers & 700 miles of border fencing

A permanent end to the “catch-and-release” policy with 45,000 detention beds.

What has not been answered is when and if all of this will be applied and done.

More from Right Truth and Hot Air and more buzz at memeorandum.

Border Agents Were Charged With ‘Non-Existent Crime’

Cross-posted by Snooper

They are JUST NOW figuring this out? Haven’t WE been saying this EXACT thing since the news broke way back when? Judas Priest! Some people’s kids! Read the Cybercast blurb and then, at the bottom, there is a short reference to Judicial Watch’s “findings”.

Two Border Patrol agents whose prosecution and sentences to lengthy prison terms triggered a political storm this year may have been charged with a “non-existent crime,” according to a legal brief submitted to a federal appeals court in May, and obtained by Cybercast News Service.

Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are serving 11- and 12-year sentences respectively for shooting and wounding a Mexican national who was trying to escape after attempting to smuggle 743 pounds of marijuana across the Mexico-Texas border in February 2005.

Although they were convicted on 11 counts, the crime carrying the lengthiest penalty was for the “discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence,” a violation of section 924(c)(1)(a) of the U.S. Code. It carries a minimum 10-year prison sentence.

Cybercast News Service obtained a copy of an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) legal brief filed by Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Virgil Goode (R-Va.), and Ted Poe (R-Texas) in the former agents’ appeal before the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans.

They accuse the prosecution of “creating a purported criminal offense never enacted into law by Congress,” and of charging Ramos and Compean with a “non-existent crime.”

Simply discharging a firearm near a violent crime is not illegal, the brief argued, saying the law they were convicted under is not a law at all, but a sentencing factor used to help a jury determine jail time after a conviction.

The brief cited several cases as precedent, including United States v. Barton in which the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that “discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence” could be used only as a sentencing factor, not as an element of a conviction. In Harris v. United States, the Supreme Court made a similar ruling.

The brief argued that, for a 10-year sentence, a defendant must be convicted under the specific terms laid out in section 924(c)(1)(a) (see section).

This provision is applicable, the section says, to “any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime … uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm …” If, and only if, these conditions apply can a defendant be sentenced to ten years in prison for the “discharge” of a firearm.

The brief argued that the shooting of drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila was not “in relation to” the drug crime because Ramos and Compean were themselves not participants in the drug crime.

Furthermore, Border Patrol Agents are authorized to carry and use firearms as law enforcement officers.

“By narrowing the issue to the discharge of the firearm,” the brief said, “the prosecution and the trial court actions adversely affected the fairness of the entire trial, depriving defendants of any opportunity to present to the jury that they were using and carrying their firearms during and in relation to their employment as Border Agents.”

The brief also criticized the prosecution.

“The criminal code cannot be treated by the prosecution as a legal chameleon, changing elements to fit the circumstances of the case that the government, in its discretion, wants to present to the judge and jury,” it said.

One of the brief’s authors, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners for America, told Cybercast News Service that this case could set an alarming precedent under which any law enforcement officer who fired a gun at the scene of a drug crime could be prosecuted under Section 924(c).

He also criticized U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, the lead prosecutor in the case.

“What [Sutton] was apparently trying to do is avoid the little detail that there was no underlying crime of carrying a gun because [Ramos and Compean] were authorized to carry guns,” Pratt said. “So I think he tried to slide around and use the sentencing provision as an underlying crime.”

‘Perverse’

Rep. Jones conceded in a statement that Ramos and Compean may have been guilty of violating Border Patrol policy by shooting Aldrete-Davila and failing to file a subsequent report.

But Jones also blasted Sutton, saying the prosecutor “had no business charging [Ramos and Compean] with a crime that Congress clearly designed to apply only to the individuals who are possessing, using, or carrying firearms for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a crime – not to federal law enforcement agents.”

“How perverse it is that this statute is now being used against law enforcement officers who were trying to stop drug trafficking,” he added.

Sutton told the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 17 that it was his trial team that made the decision to bring the “discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence” charge, and that he was not consulted on the issue.

“We have a deliberative process that goes on inside our office that I cannot describe,” he said.

Sutton could not be reached for comment, and his spokeswoman said she did not think anyone else in the office would comment on the brief until it responds to the appeal in early August.

Asked about the appeal, Pratt said he was worried that it may be denied because the cited evidence had not been presented previously.

“The thing that concerns me most is that, because [the alleged misuse of Section 924(c)] wasn’t brought up at the first trial, the Fifth Circuit Court could play legal games and say, well, too bad,” he said.

Still, Pratt described himself as “hopeful” and warned that Sutton’s tactics would eventually catch up with him.

“[Sutton] can only hide in the tall grass for so long and, Lord willing, the lawnmower’s on the way in,” he said.

Was U.S.-Mexico Deal Behind Border Patrol Convictions?

Judicial Watch was in federal court this week in its ongoing effort to obtain potentially damaging information from the U.S. government regarding Mexico’s role in the conviction of two U.S. Border Patrol agents who shot an illegal immigrant drug smuggler.

Just days after the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing over the veteran agents’ controversial imprisonment, Judicial Watch was in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to ask a judge to force the government to release the documents relating to the 2005 incident.

In January Judicial Watch filed a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with three federal agencies—Homeland Security, Department of Justice and State Department—but none has bothered to respond so Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit and a judge ordered this week’s hearing.

Border Agents Were Charged With ‘Non-Existent Crime’

Cross-posted by Snooper

They are JUST NOW figuring this out? Haven’t WE been saying this EXACT thing since the news broke way back when? Judas Priest! Some people’s kids! Read the Cybercast blurb and then, at the bottom, there is a short reference to Judicial Watch’s “findings”.

Two Border Patrol agents whose prosecution and sentences to lengthy prison terms triggered a political storm this year may have been charged with a “non-existent crime,” according to a legal brief submitted to a federal appeals court in May, and obtained by Cybercast News Service.

Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are serving 11- and 12-year sentences respectively for shooting and wounding a Mexican national who was trying to escape after attempting to smuggle 743 pounds of marijuana across the Mexico-Texas border in February 2005.

Although they were convicted on 11 counts, the crime carrying the lengthiest penalty was for the “discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence,” a violation of section 924(c)(1)(a) of the U.S. Code. It carries a minimum 10-year prison sentence.

Cybercast News Service obtained a copy of an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) legal brief filed by Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Virgil Goode (R-Va.), and Ted Poe (R-Texas) in the former agents’ appeal before the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans.

They accuse the prosecution of “creating a purported criminal offense never enacted into law by Congress,” and of charging Ramos and Compean with a “non-existent crime.”

Simply discharging a firearm near a violent crime is not illegal, the brief argued, saying the law they were convicted under is not a law at all, but a sentencing factor used to help a jury determine jail time after a conviction.

The brief cited several cases as precedent, including United States v. Barton in which the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that “discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence” could be used only as a sentencing factor, not as an element of a conviction. In Harris v. United States, the Supreme Court made a similar ruling.

The brief argued that, for a 10-year sentence, a defendant must be convicted under the specific terms laid out in section 924(c)(1)(a) (see section).

This provision is applicable, the section says, to “any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime … uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm …” If, and only if, these conditions apply can a defendant be sentenced to ten years in prison for the “discharge” of a firearm.

The brief argued that the shooting of drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila was not “in relation to” the drug crime because Ramos and Compean were themselves not participants in the drug crime.

Furthermore, Border Patrol Agents are authorized to carry and use firearms as law enforcement officers.

“By narrowing the issue to the discharge of the firearm,” the brief said, “the prosecution and the trial court actions adversely affected the fairness of the entire trial, depriving defendants of any opportunity to present to the jury that they were using and carrying their firearms during and in relation to their employment as Border Agents.”

The brief also criticized the prosecution.

“The criminal code cannot be treated by the prosecution as a legal chameleon, changing elements to fit the circumstances of the case that the government, in its discretion, wants to present to the judge and jury,” it said.

One of the brief’s authors, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners for America, told Cybercast News Service that this case could set an alarming precedent under which any law enforcement officer who fired a gun at the scene of a drug crime could be prosecuted under Section 924(c).

He also criticized U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, the lead prosecutor in the case.

“What [Sutton] was apparently trying to do is avoid the little detail that there was no underlying crime of carrying a gun because [Ramos and Compean] were authorized to carry guns,” Pratt said. “So I think he tried to slide around and use the sentencing provision as an underlying crime.”

‘Perverse’

Rep. Jones conceded in a statement that Ramos and Compean may have been guilty of violating Border Patrol policy by shooting Aldrete-Davila and failing to file a subsequent report.

But Jones also blasted Sutton, saying the prosecutor “had no business charging [Ramos and Compean] with a crime that Congress clearly designed to apply only to the individuals who are possessing, using, or carrying firearms for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a crime – not to federal law enforcement agents.”

“How perverse it is that this statute is now being used against law enforcement officers who were trying to stop drug trafficking,” he added.

Sutton told the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 17 that it was his trial team that made the decision to bring the “discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence” charge, and that he was not consulted on the issue.

“We have a deliberative process that goes on inside our office that I cannot describe,” he said.

Sutton could not be reached for comment, and his spokeswoman said she did not think anyone else in the office would comment on the brief until it responds to the appeal in early August.

Asked about the appeal, Pratt said he was worried that it may be denied because the cited evidence had not been presented previously.

“The thing that concerns me most is that, because [the alleged misuse of Section 924(c)] wasn’t brought up at the first trial, the Fifth Circuit Court could play legal games and say, well, too bad,” he said.

Still, Pratt described himself as “hopeful” and warned that Sutton’s tactics would eventually catch up with him.

“[Sutton] can only hide in the tall grass for so long and, Lord willing, the lawnmower’s on the way in,” he said.

Was U.S.-Mexico Deal Behind Border Patrol Convictions?

Judicial Watch was in federal court this week in its ongoing effort to obtain potentially damaging information from the U.S. government regarding Mexico’s role in the conviction of two U.S. Border Patrol agents who shot an illegal immigrant drug smuggler.

Just days after the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing over the veteran agents’ controversial imprisonment, Judicial Watch was in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to ask a judge to force the government to release the documents relating to the 2005 incident.

In January Judicial Watch filed a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with three federal agencies—Homeland Security, Department of Justice and State Department—but none has bothered to respond so Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit and a judge ordered this week’s hearing.

Border Agents Were Charged With ‘Non-Existent Crime’

Cross-posted by Snooper

They are JUST NOW figuring this out? Haven’t WE been saying this EXACT thing since the news broke way back when? Judas Priest! Some people’s kids! Read the Cybercast blurb and then, at the bottom, there is a short reference to Judicial Watch’s “findings”.

Two Border Patrol agents whose prosecution and sentences to lengthy prison terms triggered a political storm this year may have been charged with a “non-existent crime,” according to a legal brief submitted to a federal appeals court in May, and obtained by Cybercast News Service.

Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are serving 11- and 12-year sentences respectively for shooting and wounding a Mexican national who was trying to escape after attempting to smuggle 743 pounds of marijuana across the Mexico-Texas border in February 2005.

Although they were convicted on 11 counts, the crime carrying the lengthiest penalty was for the “discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence,” a violation of section 924(c)(1)(a) of the U.S. Code. It carries a minimum 10-year prison sentence.

Cybercast News Service obtained a copy of an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) legal brief filed by Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Virgil Goode (R-Va.), and Ted Poe (R-Texas) in the former agents’ appeal before the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans.

They accuse the prosecution of “creating a purported criminal offense never enacted into law by Congress,” and of charging Ramos and Compean with a “non-existent crime.”

Simply discharging a firearm near a violent crime is not illegal, the brief argued, saying the law they were convicted under is not a law at all, but a sentencing factor used to help a jury determine jail time after a conviction.

The brief cited several cases as precedent, including United States v. Barton in which the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that “discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence” could be used only as a sentencing factor, not as an element of a conviction. In Harris v. United States, the Supreme Court made a similar ruling.

The brief argued that, for a 10-year sentence, a defendant must be convicted under the specific terms laid out in section 924(c)(1)(a) (see section).

This provision is applicable, the section says, to “any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime … uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm …” If, and only if, these conditions apply can a defendant be sentenced to ten years in prison for the “discharge” of a firearm.

The brief argued that the shooting of drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila was not “in relation to” the drug crime because Ramos and Compean were themselves not participants in the drug crime.

Furthermore, Border Patrol Agents are authorized to carry and use firearms as law enforcement officers.

“By narrowing the issue to the discharge of the firearm,” the brief said, “the prosecution and the trial court actions adversely affected the fairness of the entire trial, depriving defendants of any opportunity to present to the jury that they were using and carrying their firearms during and in relation to their employment as Border Agents.”

The brief also criticized the prosecution.

“The criminal code cannot be treated by the prosecution as a legal chameleon, changing elements to fit the circumstances of the case that the government, in its discretion, wants to present to the judge and jury,” it said.

One of the brief’s authors, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners for America, told Cybercast News Service that this case could set an alarming precedent under which any law enforcement officer who fired a gun at the scene of a drug crime could be prosecuted under Section 924(c).

He also criticized U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, the lead prosecutor in the case.

“What [Sutton] was apparently trying to do is avoid the little detail that there was no underlying crime of carrying a gun because [Ramos and Compean] were authorized to carry guns,” Pratt said. “So I think he tried to slide around and use the sentencing provision as an underlying crime.”

‘Perverse’

Rep. Jones conceded in a statement that Ramos and Compean may have been guilty of violating Border Patrol policy by shooting Aldrete-Davila and failing to file a subsequent report.

But Jones also blasted Sutton, saying the prosecutor “had no business charging [Ramos and Compean] with a crime that Congress clearly designed to apply only to the individuals who are possessing, using, or carrying firearms for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a crime – not to federal law enforcement agents.”

“How perverse it is that this statute is now being used against law enforcement officers who were trying to stop drug trafficking,” he added.

Sutton told the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 17 that it was his trial team that made the decision to bring the “discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence” charge, and that he was not consulted on the issue.

“We have a deliberative process that goes on inside our office that I cannot describe,” he said.

Sutton could not be reached for comment, and his spokeswoman said she did not think anyone else in the office would comment on the brief until it responds to the appeal in early August.

Asked about the appeal, Pratt said he was worried that it may be denied because the cited evidence had not been presented previously.

“The thing that concerns me most is that, because [the alleged misuse of Section 924(c)] wasn’t brought up at the first trial, the Fifth Circuit Court could play legal games and say, well, too bad,” he said.

Still, Pratt described himself as “hopeful” and warned that Sutton’s tactics would eventually catch up with him.

“[Sutton] can only hide in the tall grass for so long and, Lord willing, the lawnmower’s on the way in,” he said.

Was U.S.-Mexico Deal Behind Border Patrol Convictions?

Judicial Watch was in federal court this week in its ongoing effort to obtain potentially damaging information from the U.S. government regarding Mexico’s role in the conviction of two U.S. Border Patrol agents who shot an illegal immigrant drug smuggler.

Just days after the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing over the veteran agents’ controversial imprisonment, Judicial Watch was in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to ask a judge to force the government to release the documents relating to the 2005 incident.

In January Judicial Watch filed a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with three federal agencies—Homeland Security, Department of Justice and State Department—but none has bothered to respond so Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit and a judge ordered this week’s hearing.