Two men who may be in the United States illegally are suing Hill County, the Hill County Sheriff’s Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety in federal court.

Roberto and Jamie Moreno-Gutierrez say they were unlawfully jailed for 39 days. They allege that Hill County officials never told them they were under arrest, never charged them and never gave them any sort of hearing while they were imprisoned. They also claim officials seized $14,000 in cash and checks from them.

The two left their home in Killeen to purchase a car in Plano on March 31, 2011. They were stopped in Hillsboro by trooper Carl Clary, who they say may have suspected them of transporting drugs. Clary, who is not identified in complaints filed since the incident, was driving a K-9 unit and conducted a search of their vehicle after taking their drivers licenses to his patrol unit. The search turned up no illegal substances. Clary then interviewed the two with the help of a translation tool.

The two men then say their money was seized by Clary, who called for backup. They were told they’d be taken somewhere quiet for further interviews, but according to their claim they were never told they were under arrest or Mirandized. They were booked into Hill County Jail for what documents indicate were charges pursuant to money laundering after a thorough search of their vehicle.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for civil rights violations and false imprisonment among other claims.

State law requires that authorities release anyone jailed for 72 hours if a magistrate does not find probable cause for detaining them.

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