Marijuana Trafficking: Dismissed After Motion to Suppress Granted
A Massachusetts man was charged with Marijuana Trafficking after state police and other law enforcement officers discovered him in possession of several hundred pounds of marijuana. It all began when Homeland Security Investigators in Arizona notified the Massachusetts State Police of information they received from a confidential informant about a shipping container filled with marijuana that originated in California and was bound for Massachusetts. State Police located the container when it arrived on the east coast.
Police then examined the exterior of the container utilizing a K9 drug detection dog and K9 officer, which alerted to the presence of a narcotics odor. Police maintained surveillance of the container. It was picked up by a tractor trailer truck and transported to a storage facility. Once it arrived, police continued to monitor the container for several hours. After nightfall, a vehicle arrived with one occupant that pulled up to the trailer and an adjacent outdoor storage unit.
Police observed the operator of the vehicle use a set of keys to unlock both the shipping container and storage unit. The man then began physically removing large cardboard boxes and plastic totes from the shipping container and placing them into the storage unit. Police swarmed the man in the midst of this activity. When questioned by police, the man denied any knowledge as to contents of the boxes he was moving and indicated he was doing a favor for a friend.
Police confirmed the man’s identity and learned that he had a criminal history with a prior drug arrest. Based on these collective circumstances, police detained the man for several hours while they applied for and successfully obtained a search warrant for the shipping container and storage facility. When police opened the twenty-one (21) boxes and totes, they discovered a large quantity of marijuana inside. The man was then placed under arrest. A search of his person and vehicle yielded several cellphones, U.S. Currency and travel documentation, which showed a recent trip to California.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts indicted the man for Marijuana Trafficking, which under Massachusetts law, carries a mandatory jail sentence of three and one-half (3.5) years. The man retained Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer, John L. Calcagni III, to defend him in this action. Attorney Calcagni first secured his client’s release on bail. He then conducted an independent investigation into the facts and circumstances leading to his client’s arrest, to include extensive pretrial discovery.
Once his efforts concluded, Attorney Calcagni prepared and filed a motion to suppress attacking the application and warrant relied on by police to search the shipping container and storage facility. Attorney Calcagni also attacked the warrantless detention and/or arrest of his client. The thrust of the legal argument focused on the unreliability of drug detection dogs and dog sniffs, which police often utilize and rely upon in the field for drug interdiction.
The Court conducted a hearing and ultimately granted the motion, resulting in the suppression of all physical evidence recovered in this case. As a result, the drug trafficking charge and case against the man were dismissed.