A Federal Judge in Arizona issued sanctions against the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) for destroying evidence in a civil lawsuit.
A lawsuit was filed by advocacy groups on behalf of three immigrants that claim that CBP Tucson office routinely holds immigrants in dirt, inhumane, and extremely cold jail cells for prolonged periods of time. The lawsuit was filed in June of 2015. In August the Judge issued an order requiring CBP to allow attorneys for the immigrants to access four of Tucson's eight facilities in order to inspect them.
According to ALJAZEERA AMERICA, Federal Judge David Bury's order in August specifically required CBP in Tucson, AZ to video keep AND NOT DESTROY video surveillance tapes from their holding facilities. CBP nevertheless destroyed video surveilance tapes from their holding facilities in direct defiance of the Court's order.
Judge Bury issued sanctions which require CBP to provide the Court with all existing video recording from all Tucson stations within two weeks.
Bury wrote, "The Court concludes the destruction of the video-tape recordings made prior to this Court's August 14, 2015, Order was, at best, negligent and was certainly willful. Defendants provide no explanation why, in response to Plaintiffs' notifications regarding litigation, the Defendants did not undertake the efforts initiated in response to the Court's August 14 Order."
It is rare for a Federal Agency to be sanctioned. However, sanctions seem appropriate in this case given that CBP willfully defied a Federal Court order and destroyed evidence in an ongoing case.