919 F2d 146 United States v. Casarez
919 F.2d 146
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Connie Lynn CASAREZ, Defendant-Appellant.
NOTICE: Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3 provides that dispositions other than opinions or orders designated for publication are not precedential and should not be cited except when relevant under the doctrines of law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted Aug. 8, 1990.
Decided Nov. 30, 1990.
Before REINHARDT and LEAVY, Circuit Judges, and KING*, Senior District Court Judge.
Petitioner Connie Lynn Casarez entered a conditional guilty plea to charges of importation of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute. She appeals the district court's denial of her motion to suppress evidence. We affirm.
Customs officials conducted a border search of petitioner and discovered two packages containing heroin. The search began with an external pat-down of petitioner's clothing, including that part covering her breast and groin areas. The pat-down revealed hard objects beneath petitioner's clothes. Female officials then conducted a strip search, which resulted in the discovery of the drugs.
Petitioner contends that a higher degree of suspicion was required to justify the pat-down than that which the officials had. Customs officials testified that petitioner appeared nervous. One noted that her hands were trembling and another that she was smoking nervously. The officials also testified that her travel itinerary was suspicious because she had travelled a long distance to Mexico City, alone, for a short period of time. Adding to the suspicion was petitioner's statement that she had no friends or relatives in Mexico City.
Searches conducted at the border are presumptively reasonable. United States v. Ramsey, 431 U.S. 606, 616 (1977). Routine border searches require neither individualized nor reasonable suspicion. United States v. Montoya de Hernandez, 473 U.S. 531 (1985); United States v. Sandoval Vargas, 854 F.2d 1132 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 912 (1988). We need not decide whether the pat-down of petitioner required more suspicion than is required for a routine border search. The observations of the Customs officials created a sufficient degree of suspicion to justify the search that occurred in this case.