Post details: S.D.Tex.: A heavy-set woman wearing Maidenform body shaping clothing is not RS of drug smuggling

11/09/12

Permalink 08:02:12 am, by fourth, 426 words, 665 views   English (US)
Categories: General

S.D.Tex.: A heavy-set woman wearing Maidenform body shaping clothing is not RS of drug smuggling

Defendant was on a Greyhound bus stopped at the permanent checkpoint south of Falfurrias, Texas, and she was suspected of having on a “body suit” carrying drugs. However, she was wearing Mandenform body shaping clothing. The stop became excessive and without reasonable suspicion. United States v. Diaz, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159415 (S.D. Tex. November 7, 2012)*:

At the hearing on the motion to suppress, testimony and exhibits demonstrated that the beige piece of clothing that Defendant was wearing was not in fact a "body suit." What Agent Cavazos saw was actually one of two articles of clothing, each with brassiere-like straps attached to material covering the torso area. According to testimony, these two camisoles, one with an attached brief and built-in brassiere, are commonly used by women as body shapers. Evidence also showed that these common articles of clothes were made by Maidenform, a popular manufacturer of women's underwear. These styles of undergarment can be purchased at major retail stores, such as JCPenny and Walmart, and are advertised online.

. . .

Agent Cavazos relied heavily on Defendant's undergarment as an indicator that Defendant was a body carrier. Agent Cavazos, however, testified that only a small and commonly exposed portion of this undergarment was visible at the time of the immigration inspection. In fact, he was only able to see a strip of a beige article of clothing on Defendant's left shoulder that he believed to be made of spandex. Based on this evidence, the undergarment that Agent Cavazos saw peeking out from under Defendant's blouse could have been any type of women's undergarment, ranging from a brassiere to a full body suit. The commonality of such articles of clothing does not lend itself to creating individualized suspicion of wrongdoing merely by its use. And, though drugs may be stashed inside women's underwear, if the mere use of underwear was used to justify search or seizure of an individual, agents may have free rein over half the population passing through a checkpoint. See Portillo-Aguirre, 311 F.3d at 657 ("In short, neither the bag nor its location suggested that criminal activity was afoot. If such common circumstances qualified as reasonable suspicion, then most interstate travelers would be subject to prolonged detention, for virtually any item of luggage, from a handbag to a suitcase, is capable of housing illegal narcotics."). This undergarment, even when viewed with Defendant's northward travel as a single, heavy-set female, does not give rise to reasonable suspicion. Defendant was not nervous and Agent Cavazos did not articulate any other suspicious facts that may be used to build sufficient justification.

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