D.Ariz.: Cell phone border search valid, here with RS

A cell phone can be searched at the border with reasonable suspicion, and the facts of this case rise to this standard. The court doesn’t have to decide whether the search could occur without in the Ninth Circuit. United States v. Mendez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184969 (D. Ariz. Nov. 29, 2016), adopted, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33924 (D. Ariz. Mar. 9, 2017):

Having rejected the idea that Riley requires a warrant under the circumstances of this case does not entirely resolve its application. Certainly, there is a good argument that the heightened level of privacy in cellphones described by the Supreme Court could be interpreted as requiring the same reasonable suspicion for manual non-intrusive searches of cellphones that is required for detailed forensic examination of such devices. See Cotterman, 709 F.3d at 968. However, even if the Ninth Circuit adopted this approach, reasonable suspicion for the manual search of Defendant’s cellphone is easily found under the facts of this case. “[R]easonable suspicion exists when an officer is aware of specific, articulable facts which, when considered with objective and reasonable inferences, form a basis for particularized suspicion.” United States v. Montero-Camargo, 208 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). It cannot be disputed that such suspicion came into existence when the agents discovered a large amount of cocaine and methamphetamine in Defendant’s car and he was arrested. As Agent Woods testified, drug trafficking organizations often communicate using cellular phones, making the phones especially valuable to investigations because they may contain sensitive information. TR16-18, 36. As such, even if Riley is interpreted as requiring reasonable suspicion, the facts of the case coupled with Agent Woods’s knowledge established the suspicion needed to support the search of the cellphone. See Ramos, 190 F. Supp. 3d 992, 2016 WL 3552140 (reaching same conclusion under similar facts); see also United States v. Martinez, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99705, 2014 WL 3671271 (S.D. Cal. July 22, 2014) (upholding agents’ warrantless border search of cellphone using Cellebrite technology as it was supported by reasonable suspicion).

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