Thursday, June 28, 2018

Multi-state Cooperation Creates Reasonable Suspicion for Detention at Airport

United States v. Latorre, Docket No. 17-8066 (10th Cir. June 21, 2018)(published): A law enforcement officer in Wyoming had reasonable suspicion for an investigative detention of Mr. Latorre at an airport based on the fact that Officer Weidler, an Illinois state trooper, had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Weidler had noticed the defendant's small plane flying without a transponder. He investigated, and learned the plane was ostensibly being flown to New York and the pilot intended to visit family. Weidler learned the plane was registered to Latorre and he had a criminal history, including drug convictions. The same plane then left New York just a day after landing there. The plane was tracked to Evanston, Wyoming, where a local officer was dispatched to the airport to stall the aircraft until a Homeland Security agent could arrive. Ultimately, Latorre gave consent to search the plane and the drugs were found. The Court held that Weidler had reasonable suspicion to investigate Latorre based on the unusual and unsafe flying behavior because of the lack of the transponder, cross-country travel and quick turn-around, and history of drug trafficking. Furthermore, the collective knowledge doctrine was a basis to impute this reasonable suspicion to Officer Mathson. Finally, Latorre's consent was freely and voluntarily given. Officer Mathson had displayed his gun to Latorre, but never touched it. Later, Latorre talked with two other agents in the public lobby. The agents wore street clothes and did not display their weapons. The conversation was calm. He was not handcuffed. The documents were on a chair. There was no evidence he was coerced.