125 F.3d 600 (8th Cir. 1997), 97-1011, United States v. Tugwell

Docket Nº:97-1011.
Citation:125 F.3d 600
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Otis TUGWELL, Appellant.
Case Date:September 02, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 600

125 F.3d 600 (8th Cir. 1997)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Otis TUGWELL, Appellant.

No. 97-1011.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

September 2, 1997

Submitted June 10, 1997.

Page 601

Thomas F. Flynn, Assistant Federal Public Defender, St. Louis, MO, argued, for Appellant.

Dean Hoag, Assistant U.S. Attorney, St. Louis, MO, argued, for Appellee.

Before RICHARD S. ARNOLD, Chief Judge, HENLEY, Senior Circuit Judge, and WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.

WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.

Otis Tugwell appeals from the district court's 1 denial of his motion to suppress. We affirm.


On May 4, 1996, Tugwell arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, from Los Angeles, California, on a Greyhound bus. An interdiction team consisting of five St. Louis police officers, one United States customs officer, and a drug-sniffing dog, met the bus at the St. Louis station. Prior to the passengers' departing the bus, the members of the team informed the passengers of their identity and their purpose of preventing narcotics from entering St. Louis. The team requested that the passengers submit to a sniff-search of their luggage. None of the passengers objected.

Just prior to the search, a man departing the bus, later identified as Tugwell, told officers that he urgently needed to use the restroom; he again expressed his need to use the restroom when he handed his carry-on

Page 602

bag to the officers. When the drug dog alerted to the bag, the officers requested and received permission to search it. No drugs were found therein.

The officers then had the dog sniff-search the checked luggage. Detective Linda Mopkins, one of the team members, saw Tugwell position himself against a nearby wall to observe the dog's search, despite his earlier statement that he needed to use the restroom. As the dog alerted to a grey suitcase, Tugwell walked quickly into the bus terminal without claiming any luggage. Mopkins went into the terminal in search of Tugwell. When the two made eye contact Tugwell exited the terminal. Mopkins followed him outside, but could not locate him.

Following the sniff-search of the checked luggage, which took only two or three minutes, the passengers were advised they could collect their luggage. All luggage except the grey suitcase was claimed. After approximately fifteen minutes, the unclaimed suitcase was taken to the baggage claim area inside the bus terminal. Greyhound personnel made two announcements to notify the owner to pick up the suitcase. Still unclaimed, the suitcase was placed in a room with other luggage. Another sniff-search was conducted, and the dog again alerted to the presence of drugs. A team member thereupon opened the suitcase and found several bags of cocaine.

Approximately two hours later, Tugwell returned to the bus station and attempted to claim the suitcase "for a friend." Unbeknownst to Tugwell, a Greyhound supervisor notified St. Louis police. The supervisor then informed Tugwell that he needed identification in order to obtain the suitcase. Tugwell left the terminal and returned five minutes later with identification. When police arrived, Tugwell initially identified himself as Paul Lewis, but later admitted he was Otis Tugwell, the owner of the grey suitcase. Tugwell was arrested and indicted for possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

The district court denied Tugwell's motion to suppress the...

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