Highly Invasive Body Cavity Search for Drugs at Texas Border Leads to Federal Lawsuit

iStock_000020746027_ExtraSmall.jpgIn December of 2013, a 54-year-old Texas woman was traveling back from spending the Christmas holiday with a family friend in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico when she was stopped by federal agents at the Cordova Bridge border crossing in El Paso, Texas. As the unnamed woman was passing through the checkpoint, a police drug dog allegedly alerted on her, prompting U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to select her for additional screening. The woman was quickly stripped searched and forced to undergo several body cavity searches at the crossing checkpoint, but the agents failed to turn up absolutely any evidence of drugs.

Regardless of this fact, the agents were determined to find some evidence of drugs and proceeded to transport the woman, handcuffed and against her will, to the University Medical Center of El Paso. At the hospital, doctors subjected the woman to an observed bowel movement, an expensive total body CT scan and numerous body cavity probes in a desperate attempt to find some trace of drugs. However, after enduring over six hours of demeaning and highly invasive searches, the agents were forced to admit the woman had committed no crime and released her with no charges. However, to add insult to injury, the woman soon received a $5,000 bill from the hospital for the exams she was wrongly forced to undergo.

The victim, who is represented by a lawyer associated with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and Texas, filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S Customs and Border Protection, the University Medical Center of El Paso and the specific agents involved alleging that the forced searches were committed illegally.

Although officials with the Texas hospital refused to comment on the incident, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection stated that the agency “[Does] not tolerate corruption or abuse within [their] ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off-duty.” Further, the agency’s website states that it’s employees are required to “conduct their duties in a professional manner and to treat each traveler with dignity and respect.”

Serious violations of personal rights and dignity such as this are just another highlight of the failed war on drugs within America–and what is truly frightening about this incident is that it could have happened to any citizen. Our nation’s draconian drug policies have turned our border regions into a militarized zone. Without reasonable and modernized drug laws, the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California will remain ripe for oppressive and increasingly extreme searches on innocent Americans.

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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301.  www.ggglawfirm.com

Drug Related Charges may include: Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Dangerous Drug, Manufacturing a Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Delivery or Intent to Deliver Marijuana/Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and many other drug related charges.