U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents along the Alaska–Canada border detained a Boy Scout troop and pulled a firearm on a child during a search after one of the scouts snapped a photo of an agent, the troop’s leader says.
Jim Fox, the leader of the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111, said the incident occurred July 7 on the troop’s trip from Iowa to Alaska. One of the scouts had snapped a photo as their caravan was traveling through a checkpoint into the United States, Fox News reported.
One of the agents must have seen the photo being taken, because they stopped the vehicle and ordered everyone out, the troop leader said.
“The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and [be given] ten years in prison,” Mr. Fox told an Iowa CBS affiliate.
“The agent in charge informed me of the potential charges against (the) scout and informed me it is a violation of federal law for any American to take a picture of a federal agent or any federal building,” Mr. Fox wrote on his Facebook page, Fox News reported.
During the search, the troop leader said a different boy tried to grab a bag from the top of the van when one of the agents drew a gun on him.
“He heard a snap of the holster, turns around, and here’s this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing [it] at the young man’s head,” Mr. Fox said.
The leader said he and another member were interrogated and asked why they were transporting “excessive amounts of lighters, matches and knives.”
The scouts were eventually released without any charges being filed, but Mr. Fox said it doesn’t erase the fact that the boys were “unnecessarily frightened and intimidated, he wrote.
“When do we Americans decide enough is enough? The TSA and border guards are a valuable asset to the safety of this country, but to have such Gestapo tactics against a teenage scout is uncalled for,” he said on Facebook, Fox News reported.
Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican, said he is looking into the matter.
“It’s outrageous that a border patrol agent would point a gun at a boy scout just for taking a picture,” he told the CBS affiliate. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said an investigation concluded that “at no time did any officer remove or handle a weapon.”
“Following completion of the inspection a CBP officer provided the travelers with a tire patch kit for a deflated tire and assisted with refilling the tire with air,” CBP said in a statement to The Washington Times. “The group departed without incident approximately 45 minutes after arriving. Photography is generally prohibited on port property without prior approval.”