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Third New Mexico victim of humiliating cavity searches comes forward

Published time: November 08, 2013 18:14
Reuters / Eliana Aponte

Reuters / Eliana Aponte

Allegations of serious abuse by law enforcement continue to roll in after a third New Mexico resident has come forward to claim she was forced to undergo anal and vaginal probes against her will, this time in El Paso, Texas.

The woman – who wishes to remain unidentified as she considers herself a victim of sexual assault – was reportedly stopped by federal agents at a border crossing as she tried to enter El Paso. As in the two previous cases RT reported on, a dog allegedly alerted authorities to the possibility of drugs, and the woman was detained.

At the border crossing facility, the woman was allegedly strip-searched, asked to undress, spread her genitalia and cough. According to the woman’s attorney, Laura Schaur Ives of the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, female agents also probed the woman’s vagina with their fingers.

In an interview with New Mexico’s KOB TV station, Schaur Ives added that when no drugs were found, the woman was taken to El Paso’s University Medical Center, where doctors performed more probes, including a forced bowel movement.

"First, medical staff observed her making a bowl movement and no drugs were found at that point," Schaur Ives said to KOB. "They then took an X-ray, but it did not reveal any contraband. They then did a cavity search and they probed her vagina and her anus, they described in the medical records as bi-manual--two handed. Finally, they did a cat scan. Again, they found nothing."

Throughout the entire day, federal authorities did not seek out a search warrant, nor did the woman grant consent for any procedure.

Doug Mosier, a spokesman for Customs and Border Patrol (CPB), told KOB that until the agency sees the report it “cannot verify information relative to these ACLU allegations.” Mosier added the CBP “stresses honor and integrity,” does not tolerate corruption or abuse, and that it will “fully cooperate” with investigations of alleged misconduct.

This week, two men have come forward to describe similar behavior by New Mexico police. In these two situations, the same K-9 unit – whose certification has been expired since 2011 – alerted police to possible drugs on the scene, and the two men were forced to undergo anal probes and other procedures against their will, outside the jurisdiction of the issued search warrants.

According to CBS News, one of the men – David Eckert – had a history of carrying drugs inside his body. Eckert underwent two X-Rays, two anal probes, three enemas, and a colonoscopy in a failed effort to find any drugs. It’s unclear if the other man – Timothy Young – had a similar history.

History with law enforcement aside, the revelation of these incidents has raised serious questions about police behavior and the effects of the drug war in the United States, Schaur Ives said.

"It's terrifying," she told CBS. "I think law enforcement has been emboldened, particularly when it comes to drug interdiction. It's kind of anything goes. You couple that with drug interdiction at the border and you have a recipe for serious civil liberties violations."


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