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Name: United States v. Cortez-Rocha
Case #: 03-50491
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/21/2004

A search of a defendant’s spare tire at a border was not a “particularly offensive” search requiring reasonable suspicion. After a search dog had alerted them to the presence of drugs , customs inspectors cut open the defendant’s spare tire and found several bricks of marijuana. The Ninth Circuit found that the search fell squarely under the ruling in United States v. Flores-Montano (2004) 1245 S.Ct. 1582, in which the Supreme Court held that border patrol agents did not require reasonable suspicion to disassemble a gas tank during a routine border search. The defendant argued that the search here fell under an exception noted in Flores-Montano, where the Supreme Court had left open the possibility that some border searches might require reasonable suspicion if they were carried out in a “particularly offensive” manner. The Ninth Circuit disagreed, and declined to formulate a new balancing test to determine when a border search is so offensive as to require reasonable suspicion.