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Name: U.S. v. Hernandez
Case #: 02-50155
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 12/30/2002

Appellant was a passenger in the rear seat of a minivan when the vehicle entered the United States from Mexico. After the vehicle was stopped at an inspection area, officers found nearly 100 pounds of marijuana inside the driver’s door. Appellant made a statement that he was being paid to ride in the vehicle so that the vehicle would give the impression of a family returning from vacation. On appeal, he argued that his “mere presence” as a rear seat passenger in a van carrying drugs across the border was not enough to establish probable cause to arrest. The appellate court affirmed his conviction for importing marijuana. Officers found the marijuana within arm’s reach of Hernandez, who officers were informed was a relative. He appeared nervous and avoided eye contact with the officers. There was probable cause to arrest him under the circumstances.