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Name: People v. Laborde
Case #: B199726
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 06/04/2008

The search of a cruise ship passenger’s cabin is a routine border search not requiring reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. United States Customs agents received a crew and passenger list of a cruise ship docked in Long Beach after a cruise to Mexico, in the ordinary course of their duties. Analysis of the passenger list showed that passenger Laborde had previously been arrested on narcotics and paraphernalia charges, so customs officers decided to search his cabin. Officers found methamphetamine and a pipe in the room. The trial court denied Laborde’s motion to suppress, finding that the search was a border search that could be conducted without reasonable suspicion. The appellate court affirmed the denial of the suppression motion. The reasons supporting a requirement of reasonable suspicion in searches of a person do not carry over to a border search of a passenger’s stateroom. A routine search of a stateroom does not implicate any dignity interest of the person, and the privacy interest in one’s cabin at the border is not greater than the privacy interests which justify border searches in general. At the border of this country, routine searches are permissible without any level of suspicion. There is no basis to apply a higher level of Fourth Amendment protection for persons who cross the border “ensconced in the equivalent of dwellings.”