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Name: People v. Celis
Case #: D037578
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/20/2002
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 8/28/02: S107885

Appellant was convicted of possession of cocaine for sale, and appealed his conviction based upon the denial of his suppression motion. Appellant’s car had been spotted at a house which was being surveilled as part of a drug smuggling operation. Police officers who followed him saw him buy an air pressure tank at a tire store, drive to the border, park, and walk across, leaving the air pressure tank in the car. The next day, officers observed appellant take the air pressure tank from his house to his car to the same tire store, where they brought the tank inside. Someone put a partially deflated tire into his car, which he took home, along with the tank. The tank traveled again from the house to the store and back. Forty minutes later, appellant rolled a full tire out the back door of his house. The officers detained appellant, believing the tire to be full of narcotics. The officers did a protective sweep of the house to make sure no armed people lying in wait were inside. They observed bricks of cocaine inside the house, got consent to search the house, and found 16 kilos of cocaine in the house. 25 kilos of cocaine were found in the tire. Here, the appellate court affirmed the denial of the suppression motion. The initial detention of appellant was only a stop, not an arrest, and was lawful because the officers reasonably believed a smuggling operation using tires was occurring. The protective sweep of the house was lawful because it lasted less than two minutes and was done for the officers’ safety. The seizure of the drugs in the house was lawful because they were in plain view during the sweep. The subsequent voluntary consent to search the house rendered the home search lawful. Therefore, the suppression motion was properly denied.