KGUN 9News


Woman sues CBP over body cavity search

19 year old says no reason for intrusive search
Posted at 7:21 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 22:21:38-04
NOGALES, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - A Rio Rico woman says Customs and Border Protection had no right to probe inside her body looking for smuggled drugs. 
Ashley Cervantes lawsuit against CBP says she was returning from a short visit to Mexico when she was searched and detained for about eight hours. 
The 19 year old woman says the incident started as a quick trip into Mexico for breakfast and a quick return.  She says when she came back to the US agents accused her of smuggling drugs inside her body.
Ashley Cervantes attorney Brian Marchetti says agents never told her why they suspected she was smuggling drugs but soon drug sniffing dogs were sniffing her.
Marchetti says, "We believe they used at least two different K9s on her for the purpose of trying to get them to alert.  We don't know why they used two.  Did the first one not alert and were they fishing for one that would? Or did the first one alert and there were looking for a second one to corroborate it?"
Cervantes says agents patted her down and eventually wrote up an order that said they thought she was holding drugs in her body and that she should go to Holy Cross Hospital for an X ray.  
The suit says CBP brought her to Holy Cross in handcuffs where instead on an X Ray she got something else.
Brian Marchetti says, “A male physician enters the room, 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.”
The exam found nothing.  She was returned to the border crossing and released.
Later the hospital sent her parents a bill for 575 dollars.
Customs and Border Protection says it does not comment on lawsuits.  The parent company of Holy Cross Hospital says it won't comment because a different company owned the hospital at the time. 
Ashley Cervantes attorney says she could have sued anonymously but is willing to make her name public because she hopes she can keep what happened to her from happening to someone else.