Two US border patrol agents allegedly forced Mexican drug smugglers to eat marijuana, strip to their underwear and flee into the desert on a freezing cold evening, according to an indictment Thursday.
A federal grand jury in Tucson, Ariz., returned a five-count indictment against Dario Castillo, 23, and Ramon Zuniga, 29, both of Maricopa, Ariz.
The two officers allegedly came across the Mexicans, who were in the country illegally with a larger group of drug smugglers, while on duty near the Tohono O'odham Reservation on November 12, 2008, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
Instead of arresting them, the officers forced the four "to eat marijuana and to remove their shoes, socks and all outerwear," according to a statement obtained by FOX News Channel.
"After setting fire to their personal belongings, the defendants allegedly instructed the four people to flee into the desert with no readily available shelter and resources within miles on an evening when the temperature was approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit [4.4 degrees Celsius]."
The two were charged with conspiracy to deprive persons of civil rights and civil rights deprivation under color of law. Convictions for each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine or both.
Castillo was also charged with tampering with a witness, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine or both. He allegedly tried to persuade a witness not to talk, the Arizona Daily Star reported.