Blog Post

Body Cavity Searches Are a Disturbing New Trend in the War on Drugs

Brian Rabadeau

There is a disturbing new trend being caused by our prohibition policies. After a week of reported lawsuits claiming that police officers forced citizens to endure anal cavity searches in the pursuit of narcotics, U.S. enforcement tactics applied in the name of drug prevention should be heavily questioned.

Now a third victim has come out with a lawsuit stating that she had been subjected to an invasive vaginal and anal search after crossing the Mexico-US border.

The New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing a New Mexico resident who says that federal border agents sexually assaulted her. After being pulled over in El Paso, TX, Laura Schauer Ives, the legal director of New Mexico’s ACLU, says her client was forced to proceed in a strip search after it was suspected that she had drugs.

The federal agents allegedly took their fingers and pushed them into her vagina during the search. After the agents found no drugs, she was taking to the University Medical Center of El Paso to have her anus searched.

Schauer Ives said that the medical staff “observed her making a bowel movement and no drugs were found at that point.” The woman then encountered a cavity search, had her anus and vagina probed, and underwent a cat scan which found she was not hiding drugs. The medical records showed that she refused consent to these procedures and the police did not have a warrant to search her, Schauer Ives said. The spokesperson for Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) responded that the agency could not confirm the allegations brought by the ACLU.

The woman making the claim is the third reported case of police conducted body searches since last week. New Mexico residents David Eckert and Timothy Young have recently come out with similar stories of having experienced an anal cavity search after being stopped for a traffic violation. No drugs were found in either Eckert or Young.

The nature of these stories brings up questions of the constitutionality, the effectiveness, and the ethics of the drug war. To subject innocent individuals to body searches against their will without any warrant is egregious. Draconian searches will not prevent drug use. They will only subject innocent citizens to humiliation and assault.

Brian Rabadeau is an intern with the Drug Policy Alliance.

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