I Sat in a Cage to Defend the 5th Amendment

Police and federal agents are not your friends.  When they talk with you, everything you say is being committed to their memory to be used against you in court, should they decide to arrest you for some arbitrary reason.  Lying to them can also get you in significant trouble as it is always illegal to lie in federal jurisdiction and frequently illegal in state jurisdiction.

If you don’t believe me…  just ask Martha Stewart.  As rich and influential as she is, it is too bad she didn’t know to just keep her mouth shut.  Had she not spoken with federal investigators she may have never been convicted of anything.  This is why I frequently advise people that when they interact with government agents that the best thing they can do is always remain silent.

Back in March I wrote about how I practice the art of not answering prying questions from federal agents when returning to the United States.  Some may perceive this as me purposefully being disrespectful or looking for trouble.  It is not intended to be either of those things.  My refusal to answer questions is an attempt to protect myself and my privacy.

Two days ago I visited Nogales, Mexico. When I returned I was arrested, handcuffed, and thrown in a cage by a US Customs Agent.  It was my first time ever being arrested.  I was released without charges.

Why would I be released from federal custody without any charges?

I didn’t break the law.

Here’s what happened:

I spent the day walking around Nogales, MX.  When I returned to the border I entered an inspection line and approached an agent whose name was Aldrich.  I handed him my valid US passport and a box of three shot glasses I had purchased.  I told him I wished to declare the shot glasses.

He asked me what the shot glasses were to celebrate.  I replied that I didn’t want to answer his questions.

A short interlude between Agent Aldrich and I followed where I tried to explain why I was refusing to answer his questions.  He got up, grabbed me by the arm, and dragged me into an adjacent room where another agent was sitting at a computer.

Agent Aldrich searched me and ordered me to sit in a chair.  He approached me and began pointing and yelling at me telling me I was “impeding” a federal officer by not answering his questions.  He demanded to know what I was doing in Mexico.  He stated that failure to answer his questions would result in a $5,000 fine.  He told me that I was not at the border patrol station to the north and that I was in “our house.”

I informed Agent Aldrich that I was not required to answer his questions and provided an example of why claiming that an individual would have to answer any and every question would run afoul of the 5th Amendment. 

I stated clearly that I identified my immigration status and made a verbal customs declaration as allowed by federal regulation.  I was never asked to fill out nor was I presented with a written customs declaration form.

Agent Aldrich began yelling again and I told him that he was exhibiting “contempt-of-cop” and that he was an “angry man.”  He replied that yes, he was angry.

He stormed out of the room and the agent at the computer made a few rude comments to a female agent who was standing in the doorway I had been led through just before saying “This motherfucker thinks he knows everything.”

This comment upset me and I told the agent I thought using profanity was unprofessional.  He told me “I didn’t call you a motherfucker.”

I told the agent that I wanted to speak to his supervisor and he pointed to the female agent and indicated that she was his supervisor.

I asked the female agent if she thought that using profanity was acceptable when dealing with a member of the public.  I told her I wished to file a complaint.  She dodged/ignored the question and returned to statements about how I needed to answer their questions about what I was doing in Mexico.  I reiterated my position that I did not.

I referenced 5 USC 555 and stated that I wanted a lawyer.

Agent Aldrich stormed back in the room and proclaimed “this is the third time he’s done this!” referring to my asserting rights at the border.  (An inaccurate statement, it was the second time I asserted rights at the border in this manner.)

He asked his supervisor permission to “write” me and she must have nodded because I didn’t hear her reply.  Agent Aldrich stormed towards me and proclaimed “you’re under arrest.”

I was handcuffed behind my back and walked to a cell in an adjacent room.  I asked Agent Aldrich if he would reconsider arresting me.  He stated that he would not.  The handcuffs were removed and I was locked inside.

A few officers came by to talk to me, and I shared my legal reasoning with them.  I fully cooperated with their booking questions, to include revealing the name of my employer.

About 45 minutes to an hour after I was arrested an ICE special agent arrived.  I answered his questions and explained my legal reasoning to him.

I was told by the special agent and another officer collectively that should I exhibit similar conduct at the border I should expect the same to happen again.  I told the special agent and the other agent that if I had to sit in a jail cell so that the 5th Amendment would be respected, so be it.

Agent Aldrich opened the door and returned to me my $100 that had been taken.  He then told me to leave the cell and he returned my personal belongings to me.  He lectured me about how I was now in “their system” and that they could call my employer to tell them about my attitude.  Odd that Agent Aldrich made a false arrest and yet he was lecturing me on my behavior.

I requested the names of all the officers involved.  I was denied.

I requested to speak to the supervisor.  I was denied.

I lost my cool at this time after more lecturing and said to Agent Aldrich “how does it feel to be wrong?”  He replied that I’d be arrested for trespassing if I did not leave.  As I left I reminded them that they all swore to uphold the Constitution.

I was arrested for exercising the 5th Amendment right to remain silent by an individual who swore an oath to uphold the 5th Amendment.  As soon as I obtain my arrest report and video of this incident I will be posting it here.

Stay tuned.


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