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New Mexico woman claims federal agents conducted invasive body cavity search for drugs without a warrant

By Travis Gettys
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 8:03 EDT
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A third New Mexico resident has sued law enforcement after enduring an invasive search for drugs.

A woman says federal agents and doctors violated her civil rights after she was stopped while crossing the border from Juarez, Mexico, into El Paso, Texas.

According to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, a drug-sniffing dog alerted authorities to the woman, who said border patrol agents asked her to undress, spread her genitalia and cough.

Female agents also pressed their fingers into her vagina as they searched for drugs, according to the suit.

Agents didn’t find any drugs, so they took the woman to University Medical Center of El Paso, the suit claims.

“First, medical staff observed her making a bowel movement and no drugs were found at that point,” said her attorney, Laura Schaur Ives. “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 bimanual — two handed. Finally, they did a CT scan. Again, they found nothing.”

The ACLU says federal agents never obtained a search warrant before conducting the probes or exams, and Ives said the woman’s medical records indicate she refused consent.

Her name has not been released because she says she’s the victim of sexual assault.

A spokesman for the Customs and Border Patrol said in a statement that he hadn’t seen the report or all the details necessary to conduct an investigation.

“We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off-duty,” said spokesman Doug Mosier.

Two men have recently claimed they were subjected to invasive searches and medical procedures at a hospital in nearby Silver City, New Mexico, as police officers searched for drugs.

No drugs were found in either case, and one of the men has sued the city of Deming, law enforcement and Gila Regional Medical Center.

 
 
 
 
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