Another lawsuit has been filed over a body cavity search by a New Mexico law enforcement agency along the Mexico border, the latest in a handful of similar cases.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque alleges police illegally took a New Mexico woman’s car in Lordsburg, a town in Hidalgo County. When she tried to retrieve it four days later, officers made her strip naked and searched her body cavities, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit comes after Hidalgo County and the city of Deming recently agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man taken to two hospitals and subjected to anal probes over suspicion of hiding drugs.
The officers then forced Ford into a degrading position and searched her “anal and vaginal” cavities, the lawsuit alleges.
“This was an illegal and unreasonable search,” Ford’s attorney, Shannon Kennedy, told The Associated Press. “It’s disgusting. It’s a sexual assault.”
Ford was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia — items police said were found in the car — but those charges were later dropped after officers failed to produce the evidence.
Kennedy said her law firm is getting a number of calls about similar cases along the New Mexico-Mexico border. She believes law enforcement agencies are under pressure to spend federal drug-fighting money but are overstepping their authority.
The $1.6 million settlement is for a case that isn’t done yet. One city and one county settled. One hospital and two doctors are still being sued. The second guy’s case hasn’t been heard yet. The woman in the El Paso incident has a case pending. This is the fourth similar case I’ve read about, and the lawyer in three of them says she’s getting more calls.
New Mexico sheriffs say they want more resources to battle human smuggling and drug trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association has scheduled a press conference Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Roundhouse to demand more equipment and funding for deputies aimed at tackling border issues.
Jack LeVick, the group’s executive director, says sheriffs feel that the border “is not secure” and still face problems ranging for Mexican drug cartel activity to finding immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally.
To repeat one line from attorney Shannon Kennedy:
She believes law enforcement agencies are under pressure to spend federal drug-fighting money but are overstepping their authority.
Note: The links are to the Albuquerque Journal, which may ask you to answer a question or two in lieu of registering at their site.