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United States v. Anguiano

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 20, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee,
Rodolfo Anguiano, Jr., Defendant-Appellant.

          Submitted: July 15, 2019

          Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - St. Paul

          Before LOKEN, COLLOTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

          Colloton, Circuit Judge.

         After Rodolfo Anguiano, Jr., was indicted on drug charges, he moved to suppress evidence on the ground that his arrest and subsequent searches of his hotel room and vehicle violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment. The district court[1] granted the motion in part, but ruled that some methamphetamine seized during the searches was admissible. Anguiano entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. Considering that appeal, we affirm.


         The investigation began when police officer Jacob Gruber noticed a red Volkswagen Jetta pull into a Days Inn parking lot in Bloomington, Minnesota. He ran a check on the car's California license plates and discovered that the vehicle's registration had expired. Gruber followed the car when it left the hotel and conducted a traffic stop when the driver committed a lane violation.

         Gruber approached the vehicle and saw Anguiano sitting in the driver's seat. He noticed an "overwhelming odor of air fresheners" and saw "dryer sheets all over the floor in the back and the front" of the car. He perceived the dryer sheets to be "an indicator of possible drug activity," because "[t]hey are commonly used to cover up the odor of large amounts of narcotics."

         Gruber's suspicions were heightened after he spoke with the driver. Anguiano said that he had been in the area for three days for a cousin's wedding, but did not know the wedding's location; he had switched from one hotel to another during his brief stay; and he said that the car was already in Minnesota before he arrived because his cousin had driven it from California. Gruber knew from his training that drug traffickers often "pay somebody to drive their load car to a location and then . . . fly there and retake possession." Gruber checked Anguiano's criminal history and found prior arrests for "alien smuggling, controlled substance and . . . possession of pills," but when he asked Anguiano about prior arrests, Anguiano replied that he had "never been in trouble for drugs."

         Anguiano declined to provide consent to search his vehicle, so Gruber had another officer lead a drug-sniffing dog around the exterior. Although the animal was "interested" in the undercarriage of the vehicle, the dog did not alert. Gruber decided that there was insufficient evidence to make an arrest, so he returned Anguiano's license to him. When Anguiano put his license in his wallet, Gruber saw that Anguiano possessed multiple credit cards and a badge bearing the acronym for the Drug Enforcement Administration. At that point, Gruber believed he had probable cause to arrest Anguiano for fraudulent financial transactions and placed him in custody.

         After the arrest, officers traveled to the hotel where Anguiano said he was staying and knocked on the door of the room registered to him. Zyaira Gavino answered the door and permitted the officers to enter. Once inside, officers saw Kelvin Baez sitting on the living room couch and noticed a methamphetamine pipe on a table beside him. Gavino told the officers that she and Baez had stayed at the hotel for a few days with a friend whom they knew only as "Bebe."

         Gavino gave the officers consent to search the hotel room, as well as a suitcase, backpack, and some shopping bags in the room. In the backpack, Gruber found an owner's manual to a Chevy Equinox; he believed that the manual was consistent with a set of car keys that he saw on the living room couch.

         The officers entered the back bedroom and saw a padlocked armoire. They observed a cellular telephone that was positioned to make a video recording of the armoire and activity around it. They also saw pound-size packaging materials in an open-top garbage can. Gruber asked Baez where any narcotics in the room would be located, and Baez responded, "in the armoire, obviously."

         Officers brought a drug-sniffing dog to the room, and the dog alerted at the locked armoire and a dresser in the back bedroom. The dog also alerted at a Chevy Equinox in the hotel parking lot. Gruber then searched the bathroom, "popped off" a panel from a bathroom sink vanity, and found methamphetamine. The officers arrested Gavino and Baez, secured the scene, and sought a warrant to search the hotel room and Chevy Equinox. After obtaining ...

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