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Name: U.S. v. Mendoza-Ortiz
Case #: 99-50255
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/22/2001
Subsequent History: None

Two customs inspectors conducted an enforcement review at the border of a tractor and a box trailer and discovered the load of wood in the trailer contained marijuana inside the wood. They allowed it to go on its way but surveilled the trailer, which eventually went to a warehouse. The lumber was unloaded into space G and its bay door closed. The agents could hear the sound of breaking wood about one and a half hours before they entered space G without a warrant. The court held the search was unreasonable because the customs agents lacked statutory authority to conduct the warrantless search of space G. When the planks were unloaded, the agents were required to get a warrant if they wanted to enter and search the warehouse. (19 U.S.C. 1595, subd.(a).) The trial court’s reliance on an extended border search rationale for the search was misplaced in light of the federal statute requiring a warrant for entry into a “dwelling house, store, or other building or place….”