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Stop Searching People’s Assholes for Drugs


The war on drugs is out of control. How do we know this? Look no further than the disturbing story that just broke about a New Mexican resident whose routine traffic stop turned in a 14-hour living nightmare that led to him being medically violated, all in the name of the drug war.

On January 2, 2013, David Eckert failed to make a complete stop when he pulled out of a Walmart store in Deming, NM. A police officer then asked David to get out of his car and claimed he saw Eckert “clenching his buttocks” which supposedly was a sign that Eckert had drugs in his anal cavity. According to news reports, Eckert voluntarily consented to a search of his car by a K-9 unit. No drugs were found. But the police officers involved were not satisfied and Eckert was then put in investigative detention while they secured a warrant from a judge to search his body. Then Eckert’s humiliating examination began at a nearby medical center.

Here is a summary from the local NBC TV station KOB 4 about what Mr. Eckert went through.

1. Eckert’s abdominal area was X-rayed; no narcotics were found.

2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

4. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

5. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

6. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

7. Doctors then X-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.

8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert’s anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No narcotics were found.

His attorney, Shannon Kennedy has filed a lawsuit against the City of Deming, Deming police officers on behalf of Eckert. “This is essentially medical anal rape, numerous times over a 12-hour period,” Kennedy said. “I can’t imagine anything more horrifying than what happened to our client.”

Eckert later received a bill for his torture from the hospital, which threatened to turn him over to a collections agency if he failed to pay. Eckert is said to be so traumatized by the experience it is reported he is a prisoner in his own home and afraid to come out.

I can understand what Eckert is going through because I went through a similar experience while I was is prison serving a 15-year sentence for a nonviolent drug offense.

After returning from a visit with my mother, I was subjected to a routine strip search. However, on that day, a sadistic guard was assigned to search me. In a small booth with no door, the guard ordered me to take off my clothing and assume the standard search position. Then the guard ordered me to go through the standard routine of raising my arms, opening my mouth and then bending over to allow the guard to inspect my anal cavity for contraband.

He looked and stared for what seemed an eternity. No contraband was found. Not satisfied with his search the guard asked me to spread my butt again. Once again he searched. No contraband was found. The guard then asked me for the third consecutive time to spread my behind. He even called a few other officers that joined in on the show.

Enough was enough I thought. I then asked the guard what he was looking for. The guard just laughed and told me to leave the area. I was so outraged by the dehumanizing treatment I had experienced I could not sleep for weeks. To this day, that body cavity search still haunts me, even though it was more than twenty years ago. I hope David Eckert heals from his wounds and the trauma he has felt disappears.

The war on drugs – and the police abuses that come with it – has spun out of control and David Eckert’s story is testament to that.

ANTHONY PAPA is the author of 15 Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and manager of media relation for the Drug Policy Alliance. He can be reached at: 


Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

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