CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bilbray: Suspect's release in Mexico 'a huge blunder'


LOS ANGELES — A Republican congressman is accusing the Bush administration of failing to own up to "a huge blunder" that led to the release in Mexico of a man wanted in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Rep. Brian Bilbray, who represents an area of San Diego near the border of Mexico, said this week that he will continue to press the Justice Department for answers it has refused to provide him about the apparent failure to seek timely extradition of Jesus Navarro Montes last month.

The Justice Department and White House last week wrote Bilbray that they were unable to offer an explanation, saying information sought by Congress would "inevitably compromise highly sensitive law enforcement investigative information."

"It looks like a huge blunder," Bilbray said in an interview. "There might be some logic to this … (but) don't sit there and just stonewall," he added, referring to the Justice Department.

Bilbray was joined by 38 other congressmen, all but one a Republican, in writing to President Bush and Attorney General Michael Mukasey demanding to know whether the government had asked Mexico to extradite Navarro in connection with the death of Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar, who was struck and killed by an SUV on Jan. 19.

Navarro was arrested in Mexico but was released from a Mexicali jail after a Mexican judge cleared him of an unrelated migrant smuggling charge.

In the letters, Bilbray and the other congressmen said Navarro "ran over Agent Aguilar in a Hummer as he was placing spike strips on the road." They said they learned from news accounts that the Mexican judge released the suspect "because there were no charges or extradition proceedings against him in the U.S."[Mark Godsey]

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