Friday, May 25, 2007

Time for Housecleaning in Homeland Security

A source in the U.S. Border Patrol has been telling us for some time that the rift between the 11,000 union members and border patrol chief Aguilar is widening. In February, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) passed unanimously a no-confidence vote against Aguilar due to the outcry from the rank-and-file agents who feel they get no support from the chief. The agents say they are afraid to use their weapons because if they do, Homeland Security will go after them and Aguilar is playing along to save his job at the expense of agents trying to do their jobs.

The NBPC says corruption in leadership is killing the agency. Leaders are more concerned with their political careers than supporting agents in the trenches. Here are a few recent examples: Compean and Ramos are serving 11 and 12 years for shooting a known drug smuggler. In their case, both a field supervisor and a 1st line supervisor were at the scene and didn't feel a report was necessary. In a worse-case scenario, the failure to report would be considered an administrative violation with a harsh penalty of termination. Instead, they are doing time while the drug smuggler was allowed to continue smuggling drugs with federal protection.

In Agent Corbett's case, he was confronting a group of seven illegals when one attempted to throw a large rock at Corbett. Corbett felt threatened and opened fire killing one of the illegals. Later, the Naco station supervisor, Darcy Olmos, who refers to illegals as "my people" allowed the Mexican consulate to coach them to change their stories. Corbett is now being accused of murder. An almost identical case previously brought a 3-day suspension.

Deputy Sheriff Gilmer Hernandez shot out a tire of a van full of illegals when his bullet hit a woman hiding in the back of the vehicle. He's also serving time.

All of these cases were investigated and prosecuted by Homeland Security after the Mexican Consulate pressured Homeland Security leadership to punish the officers. In one case, investigators stated they had no intention of pursuing the case until they received pressure from superiors after being contacted by the Mexican Consulate. In all cases, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton is leading the prosecution and has been caught in admitted perjury, witness tampering, withholding and falsifying evidence and other blights on Sutton's office. Sutton is now also under investigation for his role in the Tijuana House of Death. Sutton is said to have been behind the joint ICE and DEA undercover operation that allowed 10-11 murders and reports of widespread torture. ICE agent and supervisor Sandallo Gonzales exposed the operation to higher authorities in order to halt the murders identifying Sutton's role in the process. Sutton's attempts to destroy Gonzales in retaliation have resulted in a lawsuit against Sutton under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

It shouldn't be any surprise that border patrol agents are fed up. This housecleaning needs to go deep and needs to include the U.S. Attorney's office—not just the incompetent attorneys, but the dirty ones as well. It's remarkable that in the face of such problems with border security, there are actually congressmen advocating amnesty programs. Under the circumstances, why bother? The only people labeled as criminals seem to be the ones trying to protect our border. Hey, maybe we're focusing on amnesty for the wrong people!

11 comments:

Sirocco said...

You know, I really don't mind if our border patrol agents are "afraid" to use their weapons. Using guns _should_ be the last choice option, and all to often that hasn't been the case.

Your mention of Deputy Sheriff Hernandez is a good illustration -- why was it "necessary" to shoot out a tire on the van? It wasn't -- and Hernandez is rightfully suffering the consequences of his poor decision.

The same goes for Ramos and Compean -- by all accounts the individual they shot was moving away from them at the time, and wasn't a threat to them or anyone else on the scene. Yes, the individual was a drug smuggler -- that doesn't equate to a free license to shoot him.

pinkiris said...

Senor Sirocco,

Sitting in your chair safe from any life threatening situations, it is likely that you do not have the same perspective that these agents have.

As we travel down the road toward a 'new' country, with all of the little thrills we can look forward
to that accompany anarchy, we can also look to scenarios that are already occuring in Mexico and even further afield, in South Africa for an 'intersting' decade. You may even need to buy a gun yourself.

AZAce said...

Not using some force to capture drug and people smugglers seems to me to be a bad idea. How else do you stop them? And, shouldn't agents be allowed to protect themselves by using their superior weapons? We do these things in Bosnia and other places in the world for other countries. It seems odd that we wouldn't do them for ourselves.

In the Compean and Ramos case, testimony that was originally suppressed reveals that the drug smuggler was shot consistent with someone turning and reaching for a weapon.

Sirocco said...

Senorita Pinkiris,

Your reply assumes I have not been in life-threatening situations, and thus don't have the require "perspective". This assumption is incorrect.

Your post assumes I don't have a gun in my house. It implies (to me anyhow, I may be reading too much into it) that I don't know how to (or would not) use a gun. Both those assumptions are incorrect.

As for whether or not the country is descending into "anarchy", well, you can certainly make a case for it, although I doubt most would find it persuasive. There are some data points out there to support the view, however.

Sirocco said...

Azace,

The question as to whether or not any testimony was "supressed" is exceedingly unclear. Regardless, the individual in question was not, in fact, armed, if I recall correctly. He was moving away from the agents. No, I don't think shooting at fleeing suspects who haven't demonstrated they are threatening is justified.

Hernandez, there is just no defense for ... he wasn't remotely threatened.

I have sympathy for Corbett -- in his case, he had a group of angry people, and one did make a an actual threat. I think Corbett over-reacted, but I can at last see the response as minimally defensible, which is why I didn't mention him in my first post.

pinkris said...

Senor,
Glad you are armed with more than wit!

Sirocco said...

Heh. I always have by below-average looks and irascible demeanor to fall back on. :)

AZAce said...

Sirocco,

I didn't go into detail, but I recall that the medical records of the doctor who removed the bullet and related information was blocked and not allowed into the courtroom not unlike what happened in a similar case that ended on appeal with Sutton overturned and severly reprimanded by the judge. In this case, the agents claimed the smuggler appeared to be reaching for and accessing a gun. Whether the suspect actually had a gun is part of the dispute. If he did, he obviously took it with him. As a known drug smuggler, it certainly wouldn't be unusual for him to be armed.

As for Hernandez, his job is not to merely stand and act as a 36" fence for smugglers to go around. I think he is actually supposed to try and apprehend criminals. Thus, use of some reasonable means of doing so, like shooting out a tire, would bseem consistent with his job responsibilities, don't you think?

Sirocco said...

Azace,

It's been a while (6+ months at least) since I have looked at the Campeon-Ramos case details, so I may have to go back and review. I do recall the defense claimed the fleeing individual was reaching for something they thought was a gun.

A jury didn't find the defense's case pursuasive.

No, actually, I don't think trying to shoot out a tire was at all consistent with his job responsibilities. I think it needlessly risked the lives of everone in the vehcile (blowout, skid, flip anyone?), and he is rightfully suffering the consequences of his actions. It's an ideal example of someone using a gun long before it became the "last resort".

AZAce said...

Sirocco,
THe van he stopped almost ran him over as it sped away. What course of action would you suggest would be appropriate for him to take in order to stop the van? Or do you suggest he should just ignore it and let it escape?

Sirocco said...

Cars get stopped all the time without shooting at them. Police manage it.

When you fire a gun, you have _no_ idea where that bullet will end up -- they go through things, they ricochet, they splinter and send fragments about. Hernandez knew this (or, at least, should have known this). In this case, the bullet ended up in someone. Yeah, he earned his punishment.