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United States v. Garcia

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 1, 2018

United States of America Petitioner - Appellee
v.
Jesus L. Garcia, also known as Ramon Santos Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: November 17, 2017

          Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Nebraska - Omaha

          Before BENTON, SHEPHERD, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

          SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

         Defendant Jesus Garcia appeals the district court's[1] denial of his motion to suppress evidence of the methamphetamine that Investigator Mark Plowman found in Garcia's luggage. Garcia argues that the initial encounter with Investigator Plowman was not consensual and constituted an unlawful seizure. He further argues that he did not consent to Investigator Plowman searching his bag, so the search was also unlawful. We disagree and affirm the district court's denial of Garcia's motion to suppress.

         I. Background

         On June 4, 2015, Garcia was aboard an Amtrak train at the Omaha, Nebraska station destined for Chicago. Investigator Plowman and another officer were on patrol at the station, and they had a tip that there would be a male passenger who may be transporting illegal items. The investigators boarded the train to look for abnormal luggage. The entire encounter leading up to Garcia's arrest was less than four minutes, and the following is a transcript and description of the exchange as it was captured on Investigator Plowman's body camera.

         Investigator Plowman approached Garcia and stood in the aisle next to Garcia's seat.

Plowman: Excuse me, sir?
Garcia: Yeah?
Plowman: My name is Mark Plowman, investigator with the state patrol. No problems, okay, you're not under arrest or anything like that. Do you have a moment to talk to me?
Garcia: Yeah.
Plowman: Do you have your ticket with you by chance?
Garcia: Yeah.
Garcia began looking for his ticket.
Plowman: Okay. You're going to Chicago?
Garcia: Yes sir.
Plowman: Okay.

Garcia found his ticket and handed it to Investigator Plowman.

Plowman: Alright, I've got to put my eyes on. I can't see without my. . .
Garcia: Oh that's the receipt. That's the ticket.
Plowman: Okay. And you're Ramon. . .
Garcia: Ramon Santos.
Plowman: Santos. Okay. Ah you're supposed, okay, alright you're coming from Roseville?
Garcia: Yes.
Plowman: Where's home? Chicago or Roseville?
Garcia: I'm going to Chicago to visit my cousin.
Plowman: Uh huh.
Garcia: I haven't seen him for two ...

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