Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Border Agents Accused of Vile Behavior in Raid

TUCSON (CN) - More than 50 heavily armed federal agents burst into a home of sleeping women and children, hurling "ear-piercing insults;" they descended from helicopters, taunted the undressed women with sexual remarks, sexually accosted one, "utterly destroyed" the home and stole items from it before leaving hours later -- without making an arrest, the four women and their nine children and grandchildren claim in Federal Court.

One woman "was taken to a car, where a border patrolman sexually accosted her," the complaint states.

The U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and DEA agents "came in cars and in helicopters; some of them broke through the front door, some through the back door, and some climbed down into the Guerrero's yard from at least one helicopter," during the early morning raid in Douglas, Ariz., in November 2009, according to the complaint.

The families' attorney, Jesus Romo Vejar, says the feds suspected that some of the women were involved in smuggling workers into the country. Plaintiffs Reyna Guerrero, 24, and Carlos La Madrid Guerrero, 18, have a smuggling case pending in Federal Court, related to a previous arrest, Romo said.

"The agents did not find any workers; it's not clear why they dug holes in the back yard. The house inside was severely damaged," Romo said.

The 15-page complaint tells a dramatic story in which the sleeping Guerrero sisters, their 60-year-old mother, six minor children and others were "screamed [at], assaulted and manhandled" to such an extent that each suffers from post-traumatic stress.

"After breaking into the house, the agents first encountered Ms. Ines Lugo, a 60-year-old widow who is overweight and suffers from a number of infirmities including heart, asthma, rheumatic arthritis and depression," the complaint states.

"In the last two years her husband died and her only son disappeared. She was on her way out of the bathroom when she heard the commotion and found several heavily armed men facing her. In shock, she tried to talk, but the agents put a gun to her head and immediately threw her on the ground, at the same time several rifles with laser guns were aimed at her head and she was flooded with ear-piercing insults, such as 'shut up, you fucking fat bitch,' 'don't move you fucking idiot;' when Ms. Lugo complained about pain and wondered about her daughters and grandchildren, she was screamed that her daughters 'were fucked,' and 'will be fucking taken in.'"

Romo said the FBI had installed a recording device in the house, with the family's permission, as part of the investigation of the disappearance of Lugo's son. The agents took the device and have not returned it.

"The agents, almost simultaneously, broke into Ms. Carmina Guerrero's

(34 years old) bedroom situated adjacent to her two children's bedroom," the complaint states. (Parentheses in original.) "Three agents carrying high-caliber rifles ripped Carmina's blankets and blasted a heap of obscenities at her. Carmina woke up in shock; she was sleeping naked. The agents screamed, 'There is woman naked here,' [sic] and stood watching her instead of providing her with clothing."

Plaintiff Guadalupe Tanabe, 21, "woke up when she heard the agents screaming, she went to open the door to the her room and encountered several officers pointing their rifles at her face and screaming, 'Get on the ground you son of a bitch;' she fell backwards on the bed, and was grabbed by the neck by an officer who yelled, 'Get on the ground, you bitch,'" according to the complaint.

As the agents herded the family outside, "Susana was taken to a car, where a border patrolman sexually accosted her," the complaint states.

The complaint continues: "[Guadalupe] was taken to a van where later, Carlos and [a minor child] were also placed; she and Carlos remained there for the next three or four hours. [The child] was allowed to leave after about twenty minutes. He left barefooted. Guadalupe and Carlos were allowed to leave with the rest, but they were told that they could not enter the house. Susana was placed outside with bare clothing. Although she continuously asked for clothes and shoes, she was denied them. She was then placed in a separate car, while in the car a border patrolman made sexual remarks and innuendo. She was kept there for approximately four hours, when she was told that she could leave. She left almost naked and barefooted and walked ten blocks with her sisters to their grandparents home."

Later in the day members of the family returned to find the home ransacked and damaged.

"The house had been utterly destroyed," the complaint states. "The photos of [Ines Lugo's] dead husband and her missing son had been ripped and their frames destroyed and thrown on the ground. The front and back doors were broken and most of the bedroom doors were displaced. The beds were broken, the children's toys were destroyed; all of their belongings, utensils and other furniture had been taken out and left on the floor. There were holes in the walls, ceilings, ducts, and the back yard had been excavated and there were large holes on the ground."

The family reported "missing money, receipts and personal belongings." All are suffering from "symptoms of post-traumatic stress."

"All of them had high caliber weapons with lasers pointed at them. All thought that they would die that morning. All of them were screamed [at], assaulted and manhandled; ... all who are able to speak complain that this was the worst day of their lives and live tormented by the anguish of another break in."

The family seeks more than $9 million in damages.

Arizona in recent years has become a national center of anti-immigrant actions. Douglas is on the U.S.-Mexico border, in Cochise County, 120 miles southeast of Tucson.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.