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Drug charges ensnare Hilton and entrapped Latino activist Ramsey Muñiz

LatinaLista — Cyberspace has been blazing with news of bad-girl-socialite Paris Hilton’s felony charge for being found with .8 grams of cocaine in her purse in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Screen shot 2010-08-30 at 5.02.43 PM.pngNow news reports are saying that she probably won’t even see any jail time. Forget the officer could smell marijuana from the car and that Hilton was trying to shut the window when she saw the officer.

Paris Hilton

Forget that this comes on the heels of her South African bust for possessing marijuana, though the charges were later dropped. Forget that in her purse, aside from the cocaine, there were Zig Zag wrappers used to roll marijuana joints and a half of a tab of Albuterol — two items that she actually claimed were her’s and not some friend she supposedly lent her purse to.

All in all, it’s pretty amazing, or not, that this repeat offender can rest on the strong possibility that she won’t ever serve time though she had enough drugs and paraphernalia that shows she was doing something illegal that night.

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Ramiro “Ramsey” Muñiz

Unfortunately, Ramsey Muñiz didn’t have Paris Hilton’s blond locks, fame or beauty to keep him from serving a sentence that his supporters say was staged to silence one Latino activist who was a thorn in some peoples’ sides.

Ramiro “Ramsey” Muñiz is 67-years-old. If things had gone the way they were supposed to, Muñiz should be enjoying retirement and spending time with his familia.

Instead, he finds himself sitting in the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Beaumont, TX — going on 17 years in a life-without-parole sentence on drug charges that his supporters, of which he has many, say are bogus.

Ramsey Muñiz, from Corpus Christi, Texas, was an up-and-coming Latino lawyer in the early 70s. His childhood of being active in school student councils and fighting for more inclusion of Latinos on all levels hinted at what he would accomplish in his adult life:

“(He) changed the face of politics in Texas,” said Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin (who represented Muniz). “He gave power of inclusion to Hispanic Americans. He particularly changed the face of political offices in South Texas. There has been a lot of resentment from the Establishment because of that. A lot of people would like to see him fall because of who he is and what he did.”

And that’s what happened. From 1976-1994, Muñiz found himself on the receiving end of various drug charges that his supporters claimed were staged to discredit him and the work he was doing at the time in Texas Latino politics.

The last charge stuck. In 1994, he was arrested in a sting operation.

On a business trip, he was arrested on March 11, 1994 in Lewisville, TX, events unfolding as follows:

On March 10, DEA Agent Kimberly Elliott tracked Muniz to the Lewisville Ramada Inn, checked his telephone toll calls, and recorded his license plate number in the parking lot. The following day, he was entrapped after agreeing to return a prospective client’s car (in fact, a government agent) to a rental company. It was a sting, 39 kilograms of cocaine planted in the trunk, uncovered by drug-sniffing dogs when he was confronted.

Prosecutors prevailed by withholding key information from the defense, intimidating jurors to convict, and getting right wing justice to go along. As a result, during proceedings, the court ruled that Agents had probable cause to stop and search regarding a suspected drug deal, though no plausible reason connected Muniz to an $800,000 one with a perfect stranger.

During proceedings, prosecutors claimed he checked into his motel under a false name to hide his identity. In fact, Ramada records proved otherwise. He was also accused of making suspicious phone calls from the lobby. In fact, all phone records confirmed they were for legitimate business. Another false claim was that motel employees alerted DEA agents about him. When interviewed, they denied it. The entire case was fabricated to convict, prosecutors doing it by lying, their usual strategy against political activists opposed to systemic injustice.

Unfortunately, the state of Texas has a horrendous record when it comes to railroading and framing people of color for drug busts.

Because of the past events in his life, Ramsey still has not lost the focus of his life-long fight:

“Even now as I find myself confined in the darkness of this oppressive political system, I firmly believe with my life and heart that we, as a people, as a race, as a nation within a nation, will never be totally liberated, until we formulate and establish our ‘own’ political power in America.”

Was arresting and charging Ramsey a way to put this outspoken Latino leader in “his place?”

Since being in prison, Ramsey has been nothing less than a model prisoner still claiming his innocence.

How sad that a guilty socialite gets more attention than an innocent man whose only crime was fighting for justice for Latinos.

Now, it’s time to get justice for Ramsey.

This month, Ramsey’s wife, Irma, sent a letter to President Obama asking the President for Executive Clemency for Ramsey. Given all the particulars of Ramsey’s case, it certainly is one that warrants a review from the Justice Department — and one not to be forgotten by the Latino community.

Who knows if through Ramsey’s efforts the Sleeping Giant would have woken sooner?

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