Saturday, July 12, 2008

Congressmen demand accounting from White House over BP agent's death

Thirty-nine congressmen have formally asked President Bush and Attorney General Michael Mukasey whether the U.S. had ever asked Mexico to extradite a suspect in death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. The suspect has been freed in Mexico. U.S. Justice Department officials have refused to say what steps they had taken to have Jesus Navarro Montes returned to this country.

The Mexican government said Navarro was released in June after the U.S. government failed to issue an arrest warrant, provide evidence or contact Mexican authorities to seek extradition.

Navarro's Hummer struck and killed Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar on January 19 as the agent tried to stop suspected drug smugglers by setting spike strips on a road. Navarro was later arrested in Mexico, where a judge released him June 18 after he was cleared of an unrelated migrant smuggling charge.

California Congressman Brian Bilbray, head of the Immigration Reform Caucus, drafted the letter to Bush, specifying concerns over Navarro's release and the Mexican government statement. The lawmakers want a full accounting of the communications between U.S. and Mexican officials.

The letter noted that Mexico "has stated that the U.S. government has not issued an arrest warrant, provided evidence or contacted Mexican authorities regarding extradition either formally or informally." The letter requested "a full report of all activities and correspondence the U.S. government has had with the Mexican government'' in the case.

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