Ajo, Arizona Roadblocks
Highway 85 about 20 miles north of Ajo
Each time is different. However, one time, while traveling by myself(a single female), I was stopped by 3 male US Border Patrol Agents, asked where I was coming from and where I was headed.
I gave the responses. I was then told to “pop your trunk”, while two of the three agents, started around the back of my vehicle as if expecting me to just comply.
I asked if they had a search warrant and the agent, looking extremely surprised told me that they did not need one if I consented to the search. I asked what would happen if I did not comply with their request to search my vehicle trunk. I was told that I would be detained until a drug dog could be located and transported to our location. I was also told that it could be 2-3 hours before the dog arrived.
Never was I told that a search warrant would be obtained so that a LEGAL search could take place, or that they had probable cause to search, nor was a I told the reason for the search, at the time that the search was initiated.
As a single female traveler, on a deserted road (no other vehicles in sight other than the USBP) with three armed federal agents, where no cell phone reception could be received, I felt that I had no choice but to comply with the request. I complied, but got the name of the agent who had requested that I open my trunk, and when I got to my destination, I called the Ajo station and spoke with the supervisor on duty. I explained to him that I was a history teacher and did not appreciate my 5th amendment rights being violated, especially since I was a regular visitor to Ajo, (almost weekly), and that as a teacher, I had a clean record, and did not appreciate being intimidated, illegally searched, and threatened with detainment.
He did not apologize. However, I explained that from that point on, when I taught students about their Constitutional Rights, I would teach the 5th Amendment as theory, since it was obvious that it was no longer in practice, at least by the federal government.
He got extremely angry and started to interrupt me. I would not allow it. I stated that there were residents of Ajo, who did business daily, north of the checkpoint, and that those who had legitimate business north of the checkpoint should not be impeded in their travels. I also suggested that to avoid harassment from the federal agents to local, law abiding residents, that a voluntary decal could be offered to citizens who travel regularly through that area.
It would not be mandatory, but that anyone who wanted to, could apply for the decal and pay a fee for a background check to be done, and then the decal could be placed in the window of the vehicle and when agents saw it, they would simply wave the vehicle through. He told me that they would not do that, as they needed to stop people to check for things that would not be covered in the background check.
I asked what, and never received an answer. However, before the conversation was finished, he accused me of being a criminal, or looking suspicious (because I was “a pretty female traveling alone and could distract the agents from doing their jobs of checking for drugs or illegal immigrants”), otherwise, the agents would not have requested to check my vehicle. So, watch out ladies! If you are attractive, that’s now a crime!