EL PASO, Texas – A pair of former U.S. Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler and trying to cover it up started serving their federal prison sentences Wednesday, officials said.
Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos were convicted last year for the shooting of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila. A federal judge sentenced Ramos to 11 years and one day, and Compean was given 12 years in prison.
A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service in El Paso said the men, both married fathers, surrendered just before Judge Kathleen Cardone's deadline of 2 p.m. Wednesday. Cardone denied a request to let them remain free pending appeals.
It is unclear where the men will serve time, but it won't be in the El Paso area, according to the Marshals Service.
Attorneys for the agents didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.
Hours before the deadline, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton issued a five-page document outlining what he called the case's "myth vs. reality."
The document covered everything from claims that the former agents "were just doing their jobs" to reports that the shooting was at night when it actually happened about 1 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2005.
Sutton devoted three paragraphs to details about Border Patrol training and testimony from another agent claiming there was no threat the day the men fired 15 shots at Aldrete, who was hit one time in the buttocks.
Sutton told The Associated Press that the document was released Wednesday to provide "the other side" of the case, which he said has been lacking in some news coverage of the agents' trial and subsequent sentencing.
"The unfortunate thing about this case is that there was a lot of misinformation put out from early on," Sutton said. He opted not to respond in the midst of the trial, he said, to avoid prosecuting the case in the press.
Sutton has been criticized by supporters of the former agents, who have claimed that they were defending themselves when they shot Aldrete, who they said was armed. Aldrete, who retreated to Mexico after the shooting, has admitted he was trying to smuggle marijuana while in the country illegally.
Sutton has said Aldrete was not prosecuted in part because none of the Border Patrol agents at the scene could identify him, and there was no evidence linking him to a van loaded with marijuana that he later admitted to driving across the border.
"When Aldrete ... got back to Mexico without having been apprehended and identified, there was no longer any way to tie him to the load of marijuana, except through his own admissions," Sutton wrote.
Both men are appealing their convictions, and several members of Congress have urged President Bush to pardon the men.
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., sent a letter to the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons asking that the two former agents be segregated from the general prison population for their safety.