ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- A southern New Mexico man who was pulled over for not making a complete stop was taken to two hospitals and forced to have anal probes, three enemas, two body X-rays and a colonoscopy because police thought he was hiding drugs, according a federal lawsuit. In El Paso, a woman crossing the border was stripped searched, vaginally probed then taken to the hospital for more invasive tests, a forced bowel movement, X-rays and scans, the American Civil Liberties Union says.
No drugs were found in either of the cases, and both people are now being billed for thousands of dollars by the hospitals, according to attorneys, who say the cases raise serious question about law enforcement practices along the border.
"It's terrifying," said Laura Schauer Ives, an attorney with the ACLU in Albuquerque.
"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."
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of David Eckert against police and sheriff's officials in Deming and Hidalgo County, which borders Mexico, alleges Deming police sought a search warrant for Eckert because they thought he appeared to be clenching his buttocks when he got out of his car Jan. 2. According to the lawsuit, Hildalgo County sheriff's deputies officers told the Deming police officers Eckert was known in the area for carrying drugs inside his body. Police also brought in a drug-sniffing dog, which detected something in the driver's seat.