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Name: U.S. v. Alaimato
Case #: 00-15859
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 12/20/2002

The defendant Alaimato was not deprived of effective assistance of counsel by the failure to argue that the search was unsupported by probable cause. The police knew a package containing 200 grams of methamphetamine had been delivered to a mailbox rented by Sablan, who picked it up and got into a truck in which Alaimato was the passenger. The police were surprised when Sablan, after first driving a circuitous and irregular route for 20 minutes, went to a group of three homes in a remote area, because this was not Sablan’s usual address. The officers stopped a driver of a truck who drove out the only lane about 15 minutes later, and did not find any drugs, but they were concerned the driver would alert Sablan by cell phone. They drove down the lane and heard activity from the only house with an open front door and Sablan’s truck was parked in front. They saw no drugs in the truck and approached the door, shouting, “Police, police.” When Sablan came to the front door, they removed him and entered the house to conduct a protective sweep, to prevent the destruction of evidence, and to insure the safety of the officers and others who might be present. Upon encountering a locked bedroom door, they knocked loudly and demanded entry. When the door was opened, they saw Alaimato, with a knife in his hand and remnants of the parcel’s packaging. Upon being handcuffed and advised that the officers were obtaining a warrant, Alaimato showed the officer where the drugs were.