CA9: ATF officer’s SW affidavit said dealers of illegal drugs and guns often use cell phones showed nexus; recording phone’s SN at book-in wasn’t unreasonable

Noting in the affidavit for search warrant that defendant was allegedly involved in drug and gun sales and that drug dealers regularly use cell phones was enough to get a search warrant for his cell phones contents. Recording the serial number off defendant’s cell phone after he was booked in wasn’t an unreasonable search. United States v. Lowe, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1528 (9th Cir. Jan. 27, 2017):

First, the government’s search warrant application was supported by probable cause. “Probable cause … is not a high bar[.]” Kaley v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 1090, 1103, 188 L. Ed. 2d 46 (2014). To find probable cause, the magistrate judge need only find that there is a “fair probability” that the search will reveal “evidence of a crime.” Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238, 103 S. Ct. 2317, 76 L. Ed. 2d 527 (1983). Here, the government’s search warrant application provided extensive information establishing that, at the time law enforcement seized Lowe’s cellphone during his booking and arrest in November 2013, the phone likely contained evidence of federal firearms and narcotics violations. This information included: (1) Moore’s statements to law enforcement that Lowe sold drugs for a living and had previously sold guns; (2) the fact that the government recovered a .25 caliber handgun, ammunition for two other firearms, and drug paraphernalia associated with drug trafficking while searching Lowe and Moore’s shared apartment; (3) the fact that the government recovered five bags of cocaine packaged for sale while searching Lowe; and (4) affidavit testimony from an ATF agent stating that, based on his experience and training in conducting federal firearms and narcotics investigations, drug dealers commonly use cellphones to facilitate the sale of drugs. This information was sufficient to establish probable cause.

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