A 19-year-old Arizona woman was forced to endure humiliating, invasive ‘body cavity’ probes after border patrol agents accused her of attempting to smuggle illegal drugs from Mexico inside her body.
Ashley Cervantes initiated a lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) after a brief trip across the border for breakfast turned into a nightmare. CBP agents detained Cervantes for about eight hours upon her return to the U.S., because they were convinced she had secreted drugs inside her body for transport, according to local ABC affiliate KGUN9.
According to Cervantes’ attorney, Brian Marchetti, CBP officers never offered an explanation for why they suspected his client of being a drug mule, but they soon brought two K-9s to sniff for illicit substances.
“We believe they used at least two different K9s on her for the purpose of trying to get them to alert,” Marchetti explained. “We don’t know why they used two. Did the first one not alert and they were fishing for one that would? Or did the first one alert and they were looking for a second one to corroborate it?”
Though it appears CBP never explained their decision to ramp up their investigation of Cervantes, officers proceeded to fully pat down the teen — eventually writing an order she be transported to Holy Cross Hospital for an X-Ray.
Transported to Holy Cross in handcuffs, Cervantes suffered something more invasive than a forced X-Ray of her body.
“A male physician enters the room,” Marchetti continued, “asks her a few questions, we believe and proceeds to conduct a full body cavity search on the vaginal and rectal cavities and young Ashley who was nineteen at the time had not yet in her life been to a gynecologist and her first ever pelvic exams were conducted in that setting.”
Yet, Cervantes again wasn’t offered an explanation for why it was necessary to be molested and sodomized by a male doctor instead of the simple X-Ray — which would have proven there were no drugs inside her — as originally ordered by CBP.
It appears no female doctors were present for this blatant violation of Cervantes’ rights.
No drugs were found on — or inside — the 19-year-old.
According to the FBI, the summary definition of Rape is: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Make no mistake, what this woman experienced was rape, over and over again — all of it, so cops could look an arbitrary and entirely non-existent substance.
After this highly intrusive, wholly unnecessary, and unjustified ‘exam,’ Cervantes was transported back to the border crossing, where CBP officers finally allowed her to return home.
Adding insult to inexcusable injury, Holy Cross sent Cervantes’ parents a bill for $575 for the doctor’s probe of their child.
KGUN9 reported CBP declined to comment due to the ongoing litigation. Holy Cross refused to comment as the hospital had been under different ownership at the time of the incident.
Though Cervantes certainly had the option to sue anonymously, Marchetti explained she wants to be public about this nightmarish experience in hopes no one else will have to endure the same.
Customs and Border Protection is the largest federal law enforcement agency in the United States — but consistent anecdotal reports show an apparent pattern of intrusive violations and horrific abuse similar to what Cervantes endured.