Pennsylvania Trooper Ramirez stopped a car for speeding after running the license plate and learning the car was owned by Enterprise. He noted that it lacked typical rental stickers and that each vent had an air freshener clipped to it. The driver, Fruit, gave Ramirez his license and rental car agreement, identifying his passenger, Garner. The rental agreement listed Fruit as the authorized driver but limited to New York and appeared to have expired 20 days earlier. Ramirez questioned Garner; 12 minutes into the stop, Ramirez put their information into his computer and learned that neither man had outstanding warrants, although Fruit was on supervised release. Both had extensive criminal records, including drug and weapons crimes. Enterprise confirmed that Fruit had extended the rental beyond the listed expiration date. Ramirez resolved to ask permission to search the vehicle but waited for backup, which arrived 37 minutes into the stop. Fruit declined permission to search. Ramirez stated that he was calling for a K-9 and Fruit was not free to leave. “Zigi” arrived 56 minutes into the stop, alerted at the car, then entered the vehicle and alerted in the back seat and trunk. A search revealed 300 grams of cocaine and 261 grams of heroin. Both men were indicted for conspiracy to possess (and possession) with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine. The district court denied their motion to suppress, ruling that Ramirez had “an escalating degree of reasonable suspicion” that justified extending the stop. In a consolidated appeal, the Third Circuit affirmed. Ramirez had reasonable suspicion to extend the stop based on information he obtained during the first few minutes of the traffic stop before he engaged in an unrelated investigation; no unlawful extension of the stop occurred.
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