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Outrageous actions

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By Optic Editorial Board

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
— Fourth Amendment

Every one of us should be outraged at the news emerging out of southern New Mexico.

Two lawsuits have been filed against southern New Mexico authorities accused of illegally subjecting drug suspects to invasive body cavity searches, according to The Associated Press.

The first suit was filed against the Hidalgo County sheriff’s office and police in Deming by a man who was reportedly taken to two hospitals and forced to have anal probes, three enemas, two body X-rays and a colonoscopy after a traffic stop.

The second suit was filed against the Hidalgo County sheriff’s office by another man who alleges he was strip-searched in a gas station parking lot, then taken to the hospital for a cavity search, which the man’s attorney alleges was in violation of the search warrant issued.

No drugs were found on either suspect, and both men were billed for the procedures.

The men are being represented by Albuquerque attorney Shannon Kennedy, who says the searches occurred after the county’s drug-sniffing dog indicated the men had drugs on them. But, the suit contends, there are no state records showing the dog has been properly certified under New Mexico law.

If the allegations contained in the lawsuits are true, our justice system failed miserably, and everyone responsible needs to be held accountable.

What would our country’s founders think about this outrageous invasion? More importantly, where were the checks and balances that our country’s founders fought so hard for?

It’s worth noting that local authorities from time to time secure search warrants for blood, in cases of uncooperative DWI suspects, for instance, and for DNA samples. DNA can be obtained from a mouth swab while obtaining a blood sample requires nothing more invasive than a pin prick.

But forcing individuals to undergo anal probes and colonoscopies, in our view, amounts to an assault and to a violation of civil rights.

That a judge or judges would sign off on this type of warrant is outrageous. That a judge would sign off on a warrant like this based on the actions of a drug-sniffing dog that appears to not even be certified is inexcusable and should result in a Judicial Standards Commission investigation.

If judges are merely rubber-stamping warrants, they aren’t doing their jobs. The police and sheriff’s deputies involved in these incidents should also be fired.

We also question how any hospital would willingly take part in this type of search.

Heads should roll over this.