United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. WHITWORTH United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is Defendant Edith Misael Salas-Lopez's Motion
to Suppress Evidence. (Doc. No. 39). The Government has filed
suggestions in opposition to Defendant's motion (Doc. No.
hearing on Defendant's motion was held on October 30,
2017. (Doc. No. 47). During the hearing, the Government
called Kansas City, Missouri Police Department Sergeant Rod
Gentry as a witness. Defendant testified on his own behalf.
The following exhibits were offered and admitted into
Government's Exhibit 1
Photograph of Defendant's bag;
Government's Exhibit 2
Photograph of Defendant following his arrest;
Government's Exhibit 3
Defendant's boarding pass and itinerary; and
Government's Exhibit 4
Disc containing 09/08/16 surveillance footage from
the Greyhound terminal.
City, Missouri Police Department Sergeant Rod Gentry
supervises the Missouri Western Interdiction and Narcotics
Drug Task Force (“MOWIN”). (Tr. at 4). Sergeant
Gentry has been with the Kansas City, Missouri Police
Department since 1994. (Tr. at 4-5). His experience includes
18-20 months with the street narcotics unit and 24 months
with the drug enforcement unit. (Tr. at 5-6). He became a
sergeant in the interdiction unit in March of 2016. (Tr. at
Gentry testified that Kansas City is the focus of
interdiction efforts due to its geographic location in the
middle of the country and the number of highways that pass
through the downtown area which facilitate distribution of
narcotics throughout the United States. (Tr. at 8-9). MOWIN
has an office at the Greyhound Bus terminal located at 1101
Troost Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri. (Tr. at 9-10, 13).
September 8, 2016, a bus that originated in California and
traveled through Denver, Colorado arrived at the Greyhound
terminal and parked in bay number two. (Tr. at 14, 15). This
bus was significant to Sergeant Gentry, since both California
and Colorado are known source states for drug trafficking.
(Tr. at 13-14, 15, 87). After the bus arrived, passengers
exited the bus so that the bus could be serviced during a
one-hour layover before continuing to its next destination.
(Tr. at 15-16, 40-42). Passengers are not allowed to reboard
or bring bags back into the bus during the servicing process.
(Tr. at 19, 24). As the passengers exited the bus, Sergeant
Gentry briefly observed an individual wearing a two-toned
grey shirt ascend back into the bus with a denim bag; he did
not observe the individual's head and/or face and his
focus was on the denim bag. (Tr. at 20, 22, 50, 51, 89).
Sergeant Gentry testified that based on his training and
experience, this was suspicious since the individual had just
gotten off the bus and because there were covert officers,
including a K-9 officer, working at the terminal. (Tr. at
21-22, 30, 55, 88). It was extremely rare for someone to get
back on the bus. (Tr. at 20, 21, 24). Sergeant Gentry
believed the individual was trying to distance himself from
the bag. (Tr. at 24).
Gentry continued to watch the bus and observed an individual
in a two-toned grey shirt he believed to be the person who
carried the bag back onto the bus exit with a different bag.
(Tr. at 26-27, 51). Sergeant Gentry and Detective Willingham
made contact with that individual and performed a consensual
search of his bag. (Tr. at 27). Nothing incriminating was
found. (Tr. at 27). Sergeant Gentry and Detective Willingham
then returned to the bus and located the denim bag unattended
in a seat of the bus. (Tr. at 28-29). Greyhound employees and
other passengers could have accessed the bag. (Tr. at 29,
109-110). The bag did not have any identification on it. (Tr.
at 29, 109). Sergeant Gentry testified the fact that the bag
had been taken back onto the bus and left alone on a seat was
suspicious and indicative of someone separating himself from
the bag. (Tr. at 30). Detective Willingham retrieved the bag
so that a K-9 sniff could be performed. (Tr. at 30, 84).
approximately 7:20 a.m., Sergeant Gentry and Detective
Willingham exited the bus with the bag and stepped onto the
loading platform; Defendant approached the officers seconds
later and reached for the bag as he told Detective Willingham
the bag was his. (Tr. at 30-31, 33, 52; Gvt. Exh. 4).
Sergeant Gentry identified himself as law enforcement and
asked for permission to search the bag. (Tr. at 31, 86). This
consent was requested less than twenty seconds after
Detective Willingham picked up the bag. (Tr. at 32-33).
Gentry testified Defendant verbally consented to a search of
the bag (Tr. at 31); Defendant testified that he shrugged his
shoulders (Tr. at 106, 111). Sergeant Gentry further
testified that Defendant appeared to be in his late 20s or
early 30s, appeared to understand what was going on, appeared
to understand and speak English, and did not appear to be
under the influence of drugs or alcohol. (Tr. at 32, 25-36).
Neither Sergeant Gentry nor Detective Willingham threatened
Defendant or made any promises to Defendant. (Tr. at 33).
They did not have any physical contact with Defendant. (Tr.
at 90). Defendant watched as the officers searched his bag
and did not tell them to stop. (Tr. at 34, 111). A search of
the bag revealed a compressed roll of heroin. (Tr. at 35).
Defendant was then placed under arrest at approximately 7:22
a.m. (Tr. at 35, 53; Gvt. Exh. 4).
criminal history is comprised of felony convictions,
including a hit-and-run causing death or injury, driving
under the influence causing bodily injury, and illegal
reentry of a previously deported alien. (Tr. at 36). He has
been deported from the United States on four separate
occasions and is currently in the United States illegally.
(Tr. at 38, 106-107).
seeks suppression of evidence obtained as a result of the
September 8, 2016, search on grounds of Fourth Amendment
violations. He specifically argues that law enforcement
lacked reasonable suspicion to seize his bag and further