Months after being shot by a pair of U.S. Border Patrol agents, an admitted Mexican drug smuggler was back in the United States driving loads of marijuana, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency investigator said Thursday.
DEA Agent Robert Holguin testified at a bond hearing that Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, the smuggler shot during a failed smuggling attempt in 2005, has been connected to at least two more smuggling attempts. Aldrete is facing drug charges after his arrest at the border this month.
Holguin said one of the later smuggling attempts, in September 2005, ended after Aldrete ditched a marijuana-laden van in a pecan orchard after running into Border Patrol agents. Aldrete apparently told a friend “everything went bad” and he was forced to run south into Mexico, Holguin said.
Aldrete was shot in the buttocks in the 2005 incident after crashing a marijuana-loaded van during a chase by Border Patrol agents. As he ran away, former agents and convicted felons, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean shot him.
They were convicted of shooting Aldrete and trying to cover up the incident, and both former agents are serving sentences of more than a decade in federal prison. The convictions and sentences have become a rallying cry among Republican supporters, and several members of Congress have asked the Bush administration to intervene and release the men from prison.
Thursday’s bond hearing ended without a decision from U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard P. Mesa after the judge agreed to give Aldrete’s lawyer, Ruben Hernandez, until next week to submit written evidence in support of setting Aldrete free until his trial. Hernandez declined to comment after the hourlong hearing.
Aldrete was indicted last month on charges of conspiracy and possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute. He was arrested earlier this month at the border after being lured to the border by federal agents, Holguin said.
“It was a ruse,” Holguin said, adding that he didn’t know what agents promised Aldrete.
According to the indictment, Aldrete was responsible for at least two loads of marijuana being brought to the United States.
Holguin testified that an El Paso County man, Cipriano Ortiz Hernandez, first identified Aldrete as the driver of one of those loads in October 2005, after agents found 750 pounds of marijuana at his house. Ortiz has pleaded guilty to drug charges and is awaiting sentencing.
Details of Ortiz’s plea agreement have been sealed.
Another man, who has not been identified, later told agents about the September 2005, incident, Holguin testified.
Oral arguments for the former agents’ appeals are scheduled to be heard Monday in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.