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Second US lawsuit filed over body cavity searches

November 9, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) — A civil rights lawyer on Friday filed a lawsuit against New Mexico authorities accusing them of illegally subjecting drug suspects to invasive body cavity searches. And the attorney who filed the case says she has been getting calls from other people saying they were also detained after an uncertified drug-sniffing dog raised suspicions.

Attorney Shannon Kennedy’s says her client, Timothy Young, was strip-searched, then, taken to the hospital for a cavity search. The lawsuit claims the searches were unreasonable, and the search warrant was issued to search his body but not body cavities.

Authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

It is Kennedy’s second suit against New Mexico officials over invasive body cavity searches.

Kennedy’s first suit involves David Eckert, who was taken to two hospitals and forced to have anal probes, three enemas, two-body X-rays and a colonoscopy following a traffic stop on Jan. 2.

Police did not return calls. But in response to the lawsuit, the officers said they were lawfully carrying out their duties.

Both men were initially pulled over for traffic violations, and the searches ensued after a drug-sniffing dog indicated he detected drugs. No drugs were found in either case. The lawsuit claims the dog is neither adequately trained nor properly certified for narcotics searches.

“The dog is alerting on the driver’s seat, and they are detaining people for hours,” Kennedy said.

Eckert, pleaded guilty to using methamphetamine in 2008. According to the lawsuit, police officers were told that Eckert was known in the area for carrying drugs inside his body. Young, who filed the new lawsuit, has no drug record, according to Kennedy.

The lawsuits have raised questions about drug searches along the US border with Mexico. In addition to the two cases filed by Kennedy, the American Civil Liberties Union says it is preparing to sue the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on behalf of a woman who was crossing into El Paso, Texas from Mexico, in December and subjected to invasive searches after a drug dog alerted agents.

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