District Court Judge Thomas Rappa is considering whether to dismiss state drug charges against 16 people stopped at federal Border Patrol immigration checkpoints on Interstate 93 in Woodstock in August and September.
Three Border Patrol canine handlers testified they had legal grounds to conduct a search of the vehicles involved. Because the amount of contraband was below Border Patrol guidelines for prosecution, the handlers said the materials were handed over to Woodstock police.
Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of the NH American Civil Liberties Union, said the Border Patrol could have brought charges in federal court, but chose not to. In choosing to delegate to the Woodstock Police Department, Border Patrol should have followed state law — which would have required search warrants, he said.
Bissonnette told Rappa that what the state was trying to say that the entire state of New Hampshire — because all of it is within the 100-mile zone in which Border Patrol has authority — is subject to warrantless searches.