November 9, 2011 (San Diego’s East County)--Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder objecting to a two-year prison sentence given to U.S. Patrol Agent Jesus Diaz for restraining a drug smuggler caught entering the U.S. illegally.
Testimony by other agents indicated that the suspect had already been handcuffed and was laying on his stomach, not resisting, when Diaz arrived. "It was Diaz's fellow Border Patrol Agents on the scene who testified they witnessed his misconduct, which they found shocking, and complained about it to their supervisor," the U.S. Attorney's office statement read.
Agents testified that during interrogation, Diaz "lifted [the suspect] off the ground, then swept his feet out from under him" and that the suspect was then "dropped to the ground without provocation." Diaz was also accused of kicking the suspect's side, kneeling on his back, and hoisting the suspect's arms backwards during questioning "to cause pain" while the suspect "screamed throughout this assault."
In the letter, Rep. Hunter compared the Diaz case to that of two agents previously convicted in the shooting of a smuggler. “After what happened with [Agents] Ramos and Compean, and now with the details of Operation Fast and Furious coming to light, the case against Agent Diaz is troubling," he wrote. "I believe you owe it to the men and women of our nation’s Border Patrol and other law enforcement to set the record straight and explain why a two-year prison term is an appropriate punishment for Agent Diaz when smugglers and criminals are doing everything they can to evade our nation’s security and illegally enter the U.S.”
Rep. Hunter noted that he U.S. Border Patrol remains the first line of defense against the constant barrage of drugs and human smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border, adding, "Border regions from Texas to California, including San Diego County, rely heavily on the presence and law enforcement mission of the Border Patrol."
He compared the similarities of the cases of Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos, and Jose Campion to the Justice Department's case against Border Patrol Agent Jesus E. Diaz. He said that even if disciplinary action was needed, the incident would have been handled far better by his immediate supervisors.
Hunter said, "It's certainly not worthy of such a disproportionate prison term at the direction of the U.S. Government."