Cases

United States v. Tello 5thCIR 21May2019

The defendant in this case argued that Border Patrol Agents impermissibly extended an immigration checkpoint stop beyond its limited immigration purpose to conduct a K9 sniff. He argued the consent he gave to search his vehicle came only after he was asked impermissible questions unrelated to the search and therefore the consent was tainted.  As a result, he argued the discovery of three Hondurans should be excluded as evidence in his trial for transporting illegal aliens within the United States by means of a motor vehicle in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324.

The court disagreed and held that the questions asked about his citizenship, cargo, and travel were permissible questions and the K9 sniff that took place during these 30 seconds of questioning did not prolong the stop. The court further noted that if an agent requests consent to extend the duration of a checkpoint stop, or if probable cause arises, then the stop’s countable duration is measured only up until the time of consent or probable cause.  Since the court held that the stop was not unreasonable extended, the court noted “we are not obligated to reach the consent issue.” Nevertheless, the court noted that the consent was valid.

This is a case of limited applicability as it applies only to those with authority to conduct immigration checks under Title 8.  But it is a good example of the reach of the Supreme Court decision in Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1609 (2015) regarding extending traffic stops for the purposes of conducting an unrelated criminal investigative inquiry. 

To read or download the full opinion CLICK HERE