471 F.2d 1314 (6th Cir. 1973), 72-1415, United States v. Burch

Docket Nº:72-1415.
Citation:471 F.2d 1314
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Wilford BURCH, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:January 12, 1973
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 1314

471 F.2d 1314 (6th Cir. 1973)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Wilford BURCH, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 72-1415.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

January 12, 1973

Page 1315

Clifford R. Williams, Detroit, Mich., on brief for defendant-appellant.

Ralph B. Guy, Jr., U. S. Atty., Detroit, Mich., on brief for plaintiff-appellee.

Before PHILLIPS, Chief Judge, McCREE, Circuit Judge and BRATCHER, [*] District Judge.

BRATCHER, District Judge.

Defendant appeals from judgment of conviction upon trial without a jury of the offense of illegal possession of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 174. Three other counts dealing with importation and possession of cocaine and the purchase of heroin were dismissed for a variety of reasons, none of which are pertinent here.

The arrest and search of appellant climaxed several months of investigative work by agents of the Bureau of Narcotics. The federal agents first noticed appellant in the fall of 1969 when the Bureau processed a case against Burch and his son for possession of narcotics. On the day of the arrest, February 13, 1970, the agents were conducting a surveillance of the defendant. Their investigative activities had been intensified because of information received from a proven reliable informant that defendant was supplying quantities of contraband narcotics to cities in Ohio and Michigan. This unnamed informant had given over 50 tips to the agents concerning violations of the narcotics laws and the information had always proved reliable and accurate.

The information was that Burch used two female couriers to transport illicit drugs to certain cities, that the modus operandi would be for the female courier to travel from the city to be supplied to New York and then proceed to the Blue Star Supermarket, which was owned by the defendant. After making the pickup she would return to either Detroit or Chicago. The Detroit courier was described by the informant as a blond female Caucasian.

On the afternoon of February 13, 1970, the surveillance agents observed Burch, another male Negro, and a blond female Caucasian leave the Blue Star Market and drive away in a Plymouth automobile. They were followed to La Guardia Airport where Burch and his female companion, later identified as Catherine Wagner, boarded a plane for Detroit. During this period Burch carried the only luggage, a white overnight case. Upon the suspects departure, the foregoing information was communicated to federal agents assigned to Detroit.

Acting on this information the Detroit agents proceeded to the airport and, after a brief period of surveillance, arrested appellant and Mrs. Wagner.

Page 1316

Contemporaneous with the arrest the agents seized and searched the suitcase and found 1200 grams of cocaine and 550 grams of heroin. In making the...

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