CA11: Nearby drug dog helped expedite and detention was reasonable

There was reasonable suspicion for defendant’s detention for a drug dog. It also helped expedite matters that a drug dog was across the street from the stop. United States v. Rodriguez, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7236 (11th Cir. Mar. 12, 2019)*:

Here, Rodriguez did not undergo an unreasonable seizure. For starters, law enforcement officers had a reasonable suspicion that he was involved in criminal activity. See Lewis, 674 F.3d at 1303. Evidence presented at the suppression hearing revealed that officers knew that: (1) Rodriguez’s co-conspirator, Julio Cesar Rifat, was planning a seven-kilogram cocaine transaction; (2) Rifat typically worked with others when he did his drug transactions; (3) Rifat met with Rodriguez and Garcia at a residence the morning of the planned transaction; (4) Rifat left alone from the residence and did not have the cocaine in his car; (5) Rodriguez and the third co-conspirator, Yaniel Garcia, left the residence shortly afterward and drove toward the transaction meeting place; (6) when Rifat and Garcia got out of their truck at the area of the transaction meeting place, they seemed apprehensive about being followed; (7) they made furtive movements after the special agent, Brandon Cain, showed them his badge; and (8) Rodriguez told officers that he had just been dropped off at that location, which did not match what the agent had just observed. Based on this evidence, law enforcement had more than a hunch that Rodriguez might be involved in Rifat’s cocaine transaction, and the investigatory stop was more than reasonable. See id.

Nor did Rodriguez’s seizure morph into an unwarranted arrest. As the record reflects, the K-9 unit was parked right across the street from the truck and was summoned before Cain even approached Rodriguez, which allowed the K-9 officer and the canine, Dexter, to come right over for Dexter to sniff the truck. As a result, the investigation proceeded as quickly as possible, and there was no unnecessary delay in waiting for Dexter to arrive and sniff the truck. See Acosta, 363 F.3d at 1146. Further, Special Agent Cain explained that officers had placed Rodriguez in handcuffs, sat him on the ground, and moved him based on Cain’s belief that officer safety was in danger due to the large quantity of cocaine involved and on Rodriguez and Garcia’s movements after they saw his badge, regardless of whether they had any weapon. See id. at 1146-47. Because a reasonable factfinder could believe Cain’s testimony, we will not overturn the district court’s determination that his reason was credible, and as we’ve said before, a law enforcement seizure does not turn into an arrest simply because an individual is handcuffed, moved, and forced to sit on the ground. See Lewis, 674 F.3d at 1303; Acosta, 363 F.3d at 1147; Ramirez-Chilel, 289 F.3d at 749. Moreover, construing the facts in the light most favorable to the government, as we must, the delay was only ten minutes or less between Rodriguez’s detention and Dexter’s exterior sniff of the vehicle, which is far below other time limits we’ve deemed reasonable. See Acosta, 363 F.3d at 1147-48.

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