A part of the article from the Los Angeles Times:
Agents Get Prison for Wounding a Smuggler
The border officers were doing their job, backers say. The two had tried to cover up the shooting.
By Miguel Bustillo
Times Staff Writer
October 20, 2006
PASO, Texas — Two U.S. Border Patrol agents were watching the Mexican boundary last year when they stopped a van carrying 743 pounds of marijuana. The driver fled back across the Rio Grande — with a gunshot wound in his buttocks.
Federal prosecutors convinced a jury in March that the agents had shot a defenseless man and schemed to cover it up. Much of the evidence against them came from the drug runner, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, who reported the shooting to a friend at the Border Patrol in Arizona. Aldrete-Davila was given immunity from prosecution by the U.S. attorney's office.
On Thursday, the agents — Ignacio "Nacho" Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean — were sentenced to 11 years and 12 years, respectively, for offenses that included violating the smuggler's civil rights. Outraged supporters and anguished family members packed the courtroom, and many wept as the sentences were announced.
Outside the courthouse, members of the Minuteman Project, a group that opposes illegal immigration, carried "Free Nacho" placards. "I'm just happy to be going home to my family tonight," Ramos said as he left the courtroom, surrounded by his attorneys and relatives. U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone agreed to let the men remain free until January, when they must report to prison.
The case has become a cause celebre among activists against illegal immigration and advocates of stronger border security, who say it epitomizes misplaced priorities of federal prosecutors as well as the predicament of Border Patrol agents, who must fight heavily armed criminals with little or no force. Among the rules broken by the agents, supporters note, was a policy forbidding agents from chasing suspected drug smugglers without permission from supervisors.
After Ramos and Compean were convicted, members of Congress demanded a review of the case; tens of thousands of people signed a petition supporting the agents and the efforts of the Border Patrol, which is vastly outgunned in its battle against narcotics cartels and human smuggling rings.