New Mexico Woman Billed $5,000 After Horrific 6-Hour Cavity Search At U.S. Border

borderPerhaps most horrifying is that a hospital and its medical staff actively went along with this. The El Paso Times reports:

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in El Paso by the American Civil Liberties Union, a 54-year-old New Mexico woman claims that she underwent a brutal six-hour full-body cavity search by federal officers that included anal and vaginal probes that made her feel like an “animal.”

The woman also is suing University Medical Center, where while handcuffed she was forced to have an observed bowel movement, was X-rayed, had a speculum exam, vaginal exam and had a CT scan. The suit claims the hospital then gave her the $5,000 bill. Despite the six-hour search at the [border] and then later at UMC, no drugs were found.

The search took place when the woman was coming back from seeing a family friend, whom she calls “uncle” and tries to visit once a month. As her passport was swiped, a CBP officer told her she was “randomly” picked for a secondary inspection.

Then the woman was told to stand in a line with other people as a drug-sniffing dog walked by. The dog lunged and “hit the ground by her feet, but did not hit the ground by any of the others in the line,” the lawsuit said. This was [not] a proper signal to indicate drugs were present, but officers used it to continue the search.

The woman was taken to another room and asked to take off her pants and crouch as her anus and vagina were examined with a flashlight, the lawsuit said. The woman, now crying, was taken to University Medical Center after the strip search did not find anything.

While handcuffed to an examination table, the woman was searched again by officers. She was given a laxative and had a bowel movement in a portable toilet in front of both officers, the lawsuit said.

Then the woman’s abdomen was X-rayed, but there were no signs of drugs or any other contraband in the woman’s body. The last test was a CT scan of the woman’s abdomen and pelvis, which resulted in no evidence of illegal activity being found.

, , , , ,

  • Augustus Gustavius Salvatore C

    Who can we contact to express our displeasure with this occurrence ? 99guspuppet

    • Will Mickelson

      I would like to know this too. Also, you can’t bill someone for something, someone else is requesting to be done.
      That is why Employeers pay for drug tests, because they request it to be done.

      • Eric_D_Read

        You shouldn’t be able to; but you can.

        • Will Mickelson

          Yes, but she will get it overturned in court, if she fights it.
          Also, what they did. This is normal procedure. They make you wait until they get to you, so it wasn’t 6 hours of pure interaction on this issue.
          It sucks, it is wrong, but it is our system.

  • Calypso_1

    Given that SCOTUS ruled this year that warrantless blood tests cannot be performed for suspected DUI, it seems that the precedent should already be established for any search requiring a medical procedure. Who is pushing this spate of extreme searches with or without a warrant? Medical professionals who perform procedures against the will of a patient are committing assault unless there is a very specific forced treatment order. A search warrant alone does not cover the administration of any medications or use of medical devices that require licensure.

  • Unlicensed Dremel

    I’m a lawyer, and I would advise her to sue the hospital for attempted conversion (theft) and extortion, for giving her a bill with ZERO basis in fact – attempting to collect money where none is owed – clearly…. their right to charge is based on CONTRACT between a willing buyer and seller of services and they knew she was completely an unwilling participant.

  • Taea Saint-Laurent

    I was held by the US Customs Dept. in 1994 and treated in much the same way described here. I had a non-standard ticket, and was traveling with very little luggage after an extended stay in Thailand. The officers were certain I was carrying. I was not. They kept me for 6 hours in a medical unit in the International terminal. I was stripped, given multiple cavity searches and 2 x-rays. When I broke into tears, cold, on a gurney, 6 officers gathered around me, ready to hear my confession. They insisted that if I wasn’t hiding something I wouldn’t be crying. After an exhausting 24 hour journey, to be greeted home this way was more than I could bear. There was one seemingly humane officer among them. Maybe she was simply playing “good cop”, I don’t know. I’ll never forget the deep disappointment the officers showed when they finally let me go. No phone calls were allowed, my friend picking me up had no idea what had happened to me. Maybe Customs does not have to follow US law due to one not having been admitted onto US soil yet.

    • lunasea

      I’m so sorry. Why didn’t you contact the ACLU? Did you know you had the option? I can’t imagine the shock you must have been going through.

      • Taea Saint-Laurent

        Good question! At the time I felt exhausted and ashamed, and honestly didn’t want to encounter those people again. I didn’t know about the ACLU or have an awareness of any possible recourse. Wish I had.

  • heinrich6666

    So cavity searches are… a revenue grab?

21