The National Border Patrol Council weighed in on the conviction of Border Patrol Agent Jesus Diaz on Wednesday, saying the issue should have been handled “at the administrative level.” NBPC said the case was an example of “overzealous prosecution.”
A formal statement issued by Shawn Moran, vice-president of the NBPC, said Diaz’s case “continues the tradition of bias against Border Patrol agents in the Western District of Texas.”
Agent Diaz was sentenced to 24 months in prison on October 20. In legal terms, Diaz was sentenced for “depriving a drug smuggler of his Constitutional rights.”
The Law Enforcement Officers Advocate Council put it more bluntly. Agent Diaz, said LEOAC, was convicted for “for lifting a doper by the handcuffs.”
NBPC, the professional labor union representing more than 17,000 Border Patrol agents and support staff, criticized the waste of government resources.
NBPC said, “Thousands of man-hours and millions of tax dollars were expended to obtain a 24 month conviction for someone who has already spent eight months in custody.”
The union acknowledged the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas’ responsibility to prosecute Border Patrol agents who commit crimes. NBPC elaborated on that responsibility, aiming criticism at the Justice Department:
“While the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas has a job to do, one that includes prosecuting Border Patrol agents who commit crimes, it has shown a distinctly quick trigger in going after Border Patrol agents. That same quickness would be better served in prosecuting the criminals who routinely assault Border Patrol agents and violate the immigration and drug laws of the United States.”
Diaz’s case progressed as congressional inquiries into the Fast and Furious scandal continued. The US government allowed guns to be taken across the border into Mexico, and some of those guns are allegedly implicated in deaths in both the U.S. and Mexico.
On Wednesday, Janet Napolitano, chief of the Dept. of Homeland Security, testified before Congress about Fast and Furious. Another issue is the role the Justice Department may have played in the operation.
The murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, 36, occurred in the US near the border, and that murder is believed to have involved at least one weapon purchased as part of Fast and Furious.
To date no government official has been charged because of Fast and Furious.
LEOAC has mounted a campaign to help Agent Diaz, including an online petition asking President Barack Obama to pardon Diaz.
The labor union said plans to appeal the verdict in Diaz’s case “are underway.”
The US Customs and Border Protection agency falls under the auspices of the Dept. of Homeland Security. In 2010 and to date in 2011, CBP listed 5 agents who have been killed in the line of duty.