Woman Charged for Involuntary Body Cavity Search

Woman Charged for Involuntary Body Cavity Search September 13, 2011

This is one of the sickest things I’ve read in a long time.

A woman in the state of New Mexico is asking cops to cover her medical bill after she was ordered by the Metro Narcotics Agency of Las Cruces, NM to undergo a costly cavity search — at her own expense.

The woman, whose name is being withheld, was apprehended by authorities earlier this summer. Acting on “credible information from a reliable source,” Metro Sgt. Mike Alba obtained a search warrant from Magistrate Court to send the woman into Memorial Medical Center to undergo a forcible and thorough body cavity search.

Not only did the probe come up fruitless, however, but the woman was footed with a medical bill for $1,122 for something she never wanted or asked for. Attorney Michael Lilley is representing the woman and served the county a claim last week that they will be held responsible for the hospital fees, which he is calling “unlawful.”

It gets worse in the details:

While Sgt. Alba says his source believed the woman was concealing up to an ounce of heroin on her person, the authorities had no other evidence against the woman other than hearsay and she had no criminal record. Doctors did not recover any drugs in the search and the woman was not formally arrested or charged with any crime. Even still, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the woman was held in custody for several hours.

Cases like this one in New Mexico are not isolated incidents. A Cleveland, Ohio woman served 16 months in prison before being released in 2008 when defense attorneys discovered that the police informant that exposed her as a drug courier had fabricated the story to prosecutors. In that case, Geneva France was one of 26 people that were charged with crimes stemming from allegations handed by Jerrell Bray, a Drug Enforcement Administration informant. Bray shot a man after a drug deal gone bad a year later and admitted that he had made up the story that put France behind bars. By that point, however, 21 people were already convicted on charges stemming from allegations from Bray.

The use of police informants is one of the most vile elements of our criminal injustice system. This woman was essentially raped by the government. And then she’s asked to pay for it too. Utterly repulsive.

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  • unbound

    So…every American probably needs to have a lawyer on retainer at this point with the lawyer’s phone number on speed dial. It’s getting to the point that the appropriate citizen response to anything from the police is to call their lawyer first…

  • If she wasn’t guilty of something why’d she have her vagina hidden, huh??

  • The Lorax

    Seems our Justice department is the only one defending the Constitution at this point… which is kind of sad, given that they aren’t the branch with the power to enforce it.

    Remember all those Far Side cartoons, the ones with, say, “such-and-such skydiving school” right next to “Al’s Alligator Farm”, the ones with the caption “Trouble brewing”? Someone needs to fabricate an image of this situation, and use the same caption.

  • anandine

    She brought it on herself by having orifices.

  • abb3w

    I’m reminded of the dystopian movie Brazil, where much of the plot focused on refunding the overcharge for Mr. Buttle’s (incidentally mistaken) interrogation… though, of course, only the overcharge.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    the woman was footed with a medical bill for $1,122


  • D. C. Sessions

    Theoretically, all medical procedures require patient consent (with exceptions such as an unresponsive patient, where consent for lifesaving procedures is implied.)

    I would prefer what’s happening, mind — getting the Courts to rule on the insanity of demanding payment for an unjustified and unwanted procedure is good. But I would think she’d also be in a good position to tell the hospital to suck cholla, and if they don’t want to eat the charge they can sue her for it. I’m sure her lawyer would love to put that one before a jury.

    And (IANAL) legal expenses in a contract dispute are often reimbursable.

  • MikeMa

    Why would the hospital even admit the woman without a guarantee of payment by the requester? Did she agree to pay on admittance? The warrant should not have allowed the government to shift responsibility.

  • llewelly


    You know. An imperial foot, stamping on the human face, forever.

  • bachalon

    Oh man…if y’all aren’t familiar with the Bray case, you should look up the archives in the Plain Dealer. One of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read.

  • This is the War on Drugs version of yesterday’s SMBC. The dark comedy is hard to laugh at when it comes true.

  • Tony Sidaway

    The law enforcement agency has now paid the bill.


  • anfractuous

    Okay, so then everything’s just peachy then.

  • You know, I read all of these stories about abuse of power and people in positions of authority systematically violating people’s rights. Rights that don’t come from the government, but that we all have simply by being human. I wonder if we’ll ever stop venting the anger and pain in these types of forums and instead take these attacks on human dignity as something we must act upon. Not with violence against people, but certainly with conviction and force. The electoral system doesn’t bring us liberties–those are at the disposal of executive order. We need to chuck the Patriot Act and everything which resembles and enforces it, and start living voluntarily, instead of through coercion. Just my opinion. Thanks.