A yet-unnamed New Mexico woman has come forward, alleging that she suffered mistreatment at the hands of Customs and Border Protection agents in Texas as she reentered the country from Juarez, Mexico. This is the third similar incident reported recently, in what is becoming an all-too-familiar and ongoing abuse of police authority.
The first two incidents involved New Mexico police, and both cases shared the same drug sniffing dog. New Mexico residents Timothy Young and David Eckert were both pulled over for minor traffic violations. In both cases, a drug dog “hit” on thir vehicles, prompting cavity searches and other on-scene humiliation. After finding nothing, officers shipped both men off to Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City, New Mexico where they were forcibly subjected to a number of invasive procedures–complete with colonoscopies over drugs that were never actually there.
Following what seems more and more to be protocol, this unfortunate woman was stopped on her way into the El Paso, TX from Mexico. As with Young and Eckert, a drug dog indicated that she may have something on her. The woman was strip-searched by Customs and Border Protection agents and, in spite of her extreme protestations, forcibly vaginally probed. When she search failed to uncover any drugs, authorities decided that they were not done humiliating this woman yet!
She was then taken to the University Medical Center of El Paso where she was given (despite a refusal to be examined) an X-Ray, a CT Scan, and a thorough bi-manual (that’s TWO HANDED, people!) probe of both her anus and vagina. Absolutely nothing was found.
As with Eckert and Young, this humiliation was performed without a warrant.
In a 2011 UC Davis study, drug dogs falsely alerted over 200 times, with an 85% false positive rate. The researchers took 18 dog teams to a church, where the officers were told that there could be up to three “target scents” in four rooms. The officers were told that if they saw a piece of red construction paper, there was a target scent in the room.
The first room was untouched, the second had a piece of red construction paper on a cabinet, the third had two pieces of sausage and a couple of tennis balls, and the fourth room had some decoy scents and red paper. None of the rooms had drugs or explosives.
In other words, there should not have been any alerts. However, there were “hits” in every single room, with notable increases in rooms with red construction paper, where officers believed drugs or explosives to be. In fact, there was a larger increase in rooms with red construction paper than in rooms with items that interested the dog (sausages.)
This study indicates that drug dogs are either responding to non-verbal cues from their handlers when they think drugs or explosives are present, or are even being purposefully cued by officers–effectively creating “probable cause on a leash,” and a handy way to violate citizens’ 4th Amendment rights with impunity.
It was reconfirmed that drug dogs are an issue in a 2006 Australian study, which showed a 74% false positive rate, and between a 24% and 74% false positive rate in a Huffington Post 2012 report. A 2011 Chicago Tribune report showed a 66% false positive rate.
The woman is not named because she considers herself to be a victim of sexual assault.