Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature


by repost
It would appear that it is now unlawful to drive home from work these days without getting proper clearance from the local authorities.
Mon Dec 23 02:10:24 2002
Sent: Sunday, December 22, 2002 10:31 PM

Subject: Check point arrest in Arizona

National Road Block Registry

>A HREF=""

Last night while travelling back to Tucson after working the day at
Kitt Peak, I was detained/arrested at a police check point in the
Tohono O'odham Reservation - Pima County, Arizona. The check point was a
joint task force operation involving the Tohono O'odham police, U.S.
Customs, and INS/Border Patrol. Below appears my account of the events that

I plan on vigorously defending myself against the charges levied and am
seeking legal advice/council. Names of individuals who I could contact or
who would be willing to contact me would be greatly appreciated. My initial
court date has been set for January 3, 2003. Thanks for any assistance that
can be offered. I will be out of town for a few days next week but should
have access to email. I've done some initial legal research but need to
confer on the best approach to take with someone more knowledgeable then
myself at this point.



21 December 2002 - 1700: I came upon a police check point on Arizona Route
86 at mile marker 143 in the Tohono O'odham reservation - Pima County,

I called a coworker on a cell phone while waiting in backed up
traffic & informed him of the circumstances. He stayed on the line the
entire time I interacted with the enforcement officers up to the time I was
forcibly removed from the vehicle. My co-worker heard most of the

The road block was setup in such a place as to provide no prior
warning as to its presence and no ability to bypass it. Route 86 is the
only viable route back to Tucson from Kitt Peak & there is no shoulder along
large sections of the route which would allow an individual the opportunity
to turn around prior to entering the

Spotters were present along the side of the road some distance before the
checkpoint. Their purpose was not obvious until after coming upon the

I was traveling back to Tucson after working the day on Kitt Peak.

A dozen or so enforcement vehicles were present along the side of the road
at the checkpoint.

Tohono O'odham police, U.S. Customs, & INS/Border Patrol Vehicles were
present along with several unmarked enforcement vehicles.

I was stopped by the officer in charge who worked for the Tohono O'odham

Upon request, the officer indicated the purpose of the checkpoint was
sobriety & license checks which seemed inconsistent with the presence of
U.S. Customs & INS law enforcement personnel.

Upon request, the officer provided his name but failed to provide
photo identification. The officer then requested my license. I
requested to know why he wanted it. The officer indicated everyone was
being asked for their license for identification purposes and to check for
compliance with traffic laws.

I requested to know if the stops being made were based upon
individualized probable cause of wrongdoing. He indicated there was no
probable cause & everyone was being treated the same.

Others officers were beginning to gather around my vehicle at this time -
including the U.S. Customs Agent.

The officer in charge asked me for my drivers license again. I asked him
if he had any reason to believe my drivers license wasn't in order or
whether or not he had probable cause to believe I was in violation of any
statute of the State.

He indicated he had no such belief but that I needed to provide my license
to him.

I indicated that I was uncomfortable providing my license given the current
set of circumstances. He then asked for my name which I provided along with
a contact name and number for my boss who could verify my identity and
purpose for being in the vehicle.

I then reiterated my request to know what law authorized him to stop me
without probable cause of wrongdoing and demand my identification papers.
No answer was forthcoming.

At some point during this conversation, a Tohono O'odham detective spoke up
and indicated that he could tell I hadn't been drinking because my eyes were
not bloodshot, I was communicating effectively, and exhibited no signs of
being impaired but that I still needed to provide a license. He indicated
this was an area known for drug smuggling and illegal immigrants and
consequently folks needed to be identified before they could go on.

Although having no jurisdiction over the subject matter at hand, the U.S.
Customs Agent forcefully entered the conversation and demanded that I comply
with the request along with some other commentary.

I asked the U.S. Customs Agent who had jurisdictional & operational control
over the check point. The officer in charge indicated at this time that it
was a joint task force consisting of the Tohono O'odham, U.S. Customs, &

I indicated the Supreme Court had made a distinction between check points
set up for public safety, i.e. sobriety check points, Vs law enforcement
checkpoints and that only the former met Constitutional muster when no
individualized probable cause is present. I then indicated the following

Due to the presence of U.S. Customs and INS/Border Patrol Agents - law
enforcement as opposed to public safety was obviously a fundamental aspect
of the check point.

The detective indicated he was satisfied I had not been drinking & hence
any public safety aspect of the check point with regards to me personally
had been satisfied

A license check primarily serves a law enforcement function - not a public
safety issue - thus a mandatory license check relating to
a 'public safety' stop with no actual or perceived wrongdoing is
onerous on my right to travel unmolested on the public highways.

The officers present were clearly getting agitated at this point.
The officer in charge asked me to pull the vehicle over to the side of the
road. I asked him why and he replied they needed to ask me further

I asked if I was being detained. He clearly indicated I was NOT
being detained.

I indicated that if I was not being detained then it follows that I
must be free to leave.

At this point a different officer (Tohono O'odham K-9 unit) indicated he had
had enough of this and that I was to turn off the vehicle and exit the car.
A few of the officers present put their hands on their guns.

I slowly turned off the vehicle as commanded, removed the keys from the
ignition and placed the keys in full view on the dashboard. I then sat very
still in the front seat with my hands in full view for all to see.

The driver side door was opened, my seatbelt was unclipped by one of the
enforcement agents, and I was forcibly removed from the vehicle and laid
down on the pavement . My hands were placed behind my back and I was
handcuffed. I was then picked up under the armpits and dragged off the road
over to one of the police vehicles.

At no point was I informed whether or not I was under arrest, nor was I read
my miranda rights.

I was left on the ground for the next 30-40 minutes (time not
exact). A few times, the K-9 officer came over acting hostile &
belligerent & made several less than exemplary comments regarding myself. I
heard the U.S. Customs enforcer refer to me as a 'Peace Protester' & the K-9
officer refer to me as a 'Green Freak'. While I like the color green -
neither reference was accurate or justified.

Early on, my wallet was taken from me and my drivers license removed from
the wallet presumably to run a check. At my request, the detective counted
the money in my wallet before walking off with it. It was returned with my
driver's license presumably after the check was complete and no further
reason to hold on to it was found.

During my time on the ground, I observed checkpoint operations. For the
first 40 minutes - vehicles were NOT stopped in any particular order or
pattern. Officers were clearly using their own judgment to determine which
vehicles were stopped and which were waved through. At times, several
vehicles in a row would be stopped followed by 10 or so vehicles allowed to
pass unmolested. This would be followed by stopping every second or third
vehicle and so on. After an hour or so, the procedure appeared to become
more repetitive with nearly very vehicle being stopped but the first half of
the operation was clearly arbitrary in nature. Everyone was NOT treated the
same from the inception of the operation.

While watching the vehicles being stopped, I also noticed enforcement
officers checking license plates against registrations along with demanding
that car drivers pop their trunks so they could be searched. The purpose of
such an action didn't appear related to sobriety checks but rather the
search for contraband material. Sometime during this time frame, I observed
one of the Tohono O'odham officers approach the Customs enforcer and gesture
at a vehicle that had just passed. The Customs enforcer started running
toward his vehicle. This made it clear that information gathered by Tohono
O'odham officers druing the 'sobriety checks' was openly being shared
directly with federal enforcement agents for law enforcement purposes.

As time went on, what appeared to be illegal immigrants were loaded into an
INS bus. These individuals were most likely identified by their failure to
have a drivers license - indicating the license check, for which I was being
detained, was being used to share information with the INS for federal law
enforcement purposes. Additionally I was informed later that several
hundred pounds of pot had been seized (probably through the trunk searches
being conducted by the enforcement officers at the check point.)

After some time had passed, the detective came over and informed me that a
citation was being drawn up & I would have the option of either signing it
and being released on scene or not signing it and being brought down to the
Pima County Jail in Ajo for processing. Upon his return, I opted not to
sign and was lead over to one of the Tohono O'odham vehicles to await

While waiting, I was informed my boss had been reached and that he was
heading down to the scene to recover the vehicle and I would be allowed to
talk with him at that time. Another hour passed before my boss and a
co-worker arrived from the University. I talked with them at length
regarding the situation and decided to sign the Arizona Traffic Ticket &
Complaint so I could leave and start preparing my defense.

After signing the complaint, we conversed with the detective and the officer
in charge. They indicated that while they have jurisdiction to enforce
State laws on the section of the highway nearest their reservation, because
I was not a citizen of the reservation my case would be transferred to the
jurisdiction of Pima County.

I asked if there would be a problem with recording the license plate numbers
and other marking of law enforcement vehicles present. The officer in
charge indicated that was fine at which point I proceeded to do exactly
that. The list appears below

INS/Border Patrol H9739 J-25037 H9483 J-25581 E0703 J-26973 U1192 J22316
(Bus containing alleged illegal immigrants)

Tohono O'odham
83251 G-415CB
75781 G-450CB
30939 G-874CZ (w/trailer - G-590CJ)
51420 G-135CE
92432 G-461CE
83254 G-413CB

Unmarked CA-52937 Blue Dodge 4x4 CA-50064 Silver Dodge 4x4 G-34 5DD
White Crown Victoria G-419DD White Ford Expedition CB-88166 White
Crown Victoria CB-32748 White utility truck

Tow vehicles were on site a ways off as well as many vehicles that had been
forced to pull over for further questioning. There was a pile of unopened
containers of alcohol off to the side as well. At this point we departed
the scene.

I was cited with two class 2 misdeamenors - each of which carries a maximum
jail time of 4 months and a maximum monetary fine of $750.00

* ARS 28-1595B - Operator fails/refuses to exhibit drivers' license

* ARS 28-622A - Failure to obey officer while directing traffic

It would appear that it is now unlawful to drive home from work these days without getting proper clearance from the local authorities.
Add Your Comments
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
Fri, Dec 27, 2002 9:18AM
Han Fei
Mon, Dec 23, 2002 3:03PM
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$20.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network