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Name: U.S. v. Thompson
Case #: 00-30382
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/04/2002
Subsequent History: None

Thompson was the skipper of a boat intercepted and detained by the Coast Guard off the coast of Washington State for a safety inspection. Thompson could not produce the boat’s registration nor provide the name of the boat’s owner, other than stating, “a friend.” The boat was traveling in a “known smuggling route between Canada and the United States.” The boarding officers began a routine safety inspection. When asked to produce a life jacket for every person on board, Thompson exposed the interior cabin, including several full duffel bags. Duffel bags are commonly used to transport marijuana. During the course of the inspection, a computer check for warrants and criminal history records was run; the return showed Thompson was associated with a Canadian Hells Angels group and had a prior drug smuggling conviction. Thompson also gave an unbelievable account of taking a new boat for a test run after “repairs.” Reviewing the detention issue de novo, the Court of Appeals concluded that the 15-20 minute delay for the report to come back on the records check was a permissible investigatory detention beyond that necessary for the inspection, was not excessive under the circumstances, and did not constitute an arrest. Furthermore, there was reasonable suspicion for the detention that ripened into probable cause for the search and arrest.