Assume the Position: Drug War Brings the State to New Low

EspañolLast week, we learned of two separate incidents involving the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department in Deming, New Mexico, and the extraordinary lengths that they will go in conducting “routine” searches for drugs.

Drug War
Officers Bobby Orosco and Robert Chavez. Source: KOB-TV

After witnessing a minor traffic violation, police officers Bobby Orosco and Robert Chavez were suspicious of the offender, David Eckert. His “clenched buttocks” drew their attention, and they forced Eckert to undergo a series of humiliating and painfully invasive medical procedures.

The officers ordered doctors to perform x-rays, examine Eckert’s anus with their fingers, and repeatedly penetrate him anally with an enema, forcing him to defecate multiple times as they watched. After this exhaustive search yielded no drugs, police then ordered a colonoscopy be performed on Eckert, penetrating his anal cavity for the fourth time, and again finding nothing.

If not for the badge that designates the aggressors as duly authorized actors of the state, and therefore immune to the rules that you and I live by, this act of physical violence would be considered nothing less than first-degree rape.

Drug War
Deming Police. Source: New York Daily News

After news broke of David Eckert’s treatment by Deming police officers and the ensuing legal action against the department, another man, Timothy Young, came forward to allege similar indignity.

More recently, another victim of this insane “war on drugs,” a still unidentified woman from New Mexico, has taken her case to the ACLU and shared her story of almost identical abuse by another branch of overzealous law enforcement.

Speaking through her attorney, Laura Schaur Ives, legal director for the New Mexico Chapter of the ACLU, the woman has stated that she considers herself a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Customs and Border Protection in El Paso, Texas.

Upon crossing the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Border Patrol held the woman at the inspection area after being alerted by a drug-sniffing dog. Agents then performed a strip search and forcibly inserted their fingers into the woman’s vagina, feeling for drugs. As in the cases of David Eckert, Timothy Young, and the Deming Police Department, this didn’t satisfy federal agents who called for further, more intrusive, examination.

After forced bowel movements, x-rays, anal and vaginal “bi-manual” (two-handed) probes, and even a CAT scan — all done without her consent — no drugs were recovered.

In response to the allegations, CBP spokesmen Doug Mosier, issued a statement that read in part, “We [CBP] 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.”

If previous investigations into abuses by Border Patrol are any indication, Mosier must mean CBP will keep a tight lid on the situation, their offending agents will receive no penalty, and the agency hopes you will eventually forget all about it.

Once again, we have clear cut examples of reoccurring abuses by law enforcement, from local police and federal border agents, stemming from a completely flawed and increasingly bizarre premise. The state so wants to protect you from the “harm” caused by illegal narcotics, that it will cause you great bodily and psychological harm to prevent you from doing it to yourself.

In each case mentioned above, no drugs were found on the victim, and their stories are known because they are “innocent.” Had David Eckert, Timothy Young, or the woman in El Paso been discovered in possession of a prohibited substance as a result of their judicially-approved rape, the public’s reaction, if any at all, would likely have been very different.

Somehow, the actions of police would be deemed less offensive if proven to be effectively carried out in the service of “the greater good.”

If the state not only prevents us from making decisions about what we put into our own bodies, but effectively uses that premise to violate our bodies, then what are we? Whatever it may be, it isn’t free.

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