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Name: U.S. v. Ibarra
Case #: 02-30389
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/09/2003
Subsequent History: None

After receiving information from drug enforcement agents that an Isuzu Trooper was traveling through Oregon and that the DEA suspected it of carrying methamphetamine, police officers followed the car until the driver committed a traffic violation (speeding), and then stopped the car with a drug detecting dog present. As one officer began to write the citation, the dog alerted to a section of the car while being walked around its exterior. The driver signed a consent to search form in Spanish, since he did not seem to speak English. Drugs were found beneath the middle console, which was removed after the dog alerted to it. The court rejected the argument that this was an extraordinary case because the traffic stop was a pretext to lead to a search. The court also declined to address whether the driver consented to the search, finding that there was probable cause to search. Officers had received information that methamphetamine was being picked up at a certain spot. There an officer saw a bag being hefted into a Chevy Tahoe, which traveled to a garage. A man who had been in the Tahoe entered the house and then left it with Ibarra, who got into the Isuzu and drove it into the garage. The Isuzu was registered to Ibarra, whose name an agent recognized from a prior investigation into a methamphetamine lab. About an hour later, Ibarra, accompanied by his wife and some others began driving the car. There was no contention that the presence of the dog lengthened the time of the seizure beyond what is ordinary in traffic stops. No warrant was needed because of the so-called “automobile exception” to the usual warrant requirement.