TUCSON (CN) - A U.S. citizen claims in court that he was harassed so severely and repeatedly by the Border Patrol that it drove him to attempt suicide.
Mario Alvarado says agents repeatedly detained and searched him in the summer and fall of 2012 as he returned to Arizona from Mexico, holding him for hours without cause, falsely accusing him of crimes and assaulting him.
He sued the United States and U.S. Border Patrol Agents M. Jarmon, R. Husted, and A. Rowe, in Federal Court.
Agents stopped Alvarado at a checkpoint on northbound Interstate 19 in July 2012 and detained him for eight hours after a dog "allegedly alerted to the presence of illegal substances," according to the complaint.
Defendant agent M. Jarmon "accused plaintiff of being an illegal immigrant, buying his citizenship and possession of drugs," the complaint states.
Alvarado claims that he was "repeatedly questioned without being read his Miranda rights or given the opportunity to consult with legal counsel."
After calling the state police to issue a citation for providing false information and an open container violation, the agents let Alvarado go.
About a month later, agents again searched Alvarado at the I-19 secondary checkpoint, he says, again claiming that a dog had smelled drugs and detaining and questioning him for eight hours.
"A U.S. Border Patrol Agent Mata told plaintiff's wife that he was most likely going to be sent to Phoenix because he 'probably had a big bundle of marijuana in the truck,'" the complaint states.
It continues: "Plaintiff's wife stated that the Border Patrol agents did not find anything in plaintiff's truck and the Agent Mata became confused as to why plaintiff had been detained.
"On this occasion, a different Border Patrol agent, who is unknown at this time, told plaintiff's wife that the Border Patrol agents were arresting plaintiff to teach him a lesson."
In one week in September 2012, Border Patrol agents at the Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz., searched Alvarado four times, he says. On the fourth time, the computer told agents that he was likely armed and dangerous, and they detained him for about an hour before realizing it was mistake.
Then in early November 2012, agents detained Alvarado at the I-19 checkpoint again. This time he was "assaulted by Border Patrol agents and plaintiff suffered a broken toe from this assault," according to the complaint.
No charges have ever been filed against him, Alvarado says.
"Plaintiff has suffered severe mental distress as a result of being terrorized by the Border Patrol," Alvarado says. "Plaintiff has attempted to commit suicide on several occasions as a result of being terrorized by the Border Patrol.
"Plaintiff did not suffer from any mental illness prior to these encounters with the Border Patrol."
Alvarado seeks damages for physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering, assault, false imprisonment and conspiracy.
He is represented by Paul Gattone.