U.S. v. Oriakhi, No. 93-5252

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge, PHILLIPS; NIEMEYER; PHILLIPS
Citation57 F.3d 1290
Docket NumberNo. 93-5252
Decision Date22 June 1995
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Daniel ORIAKHI, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 1290

57 F.3d 1290
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Daniel ORIAKHI, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 93-5252.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fourth Circuit.
Argued Feb. 2, 1995.
Decided June 22, 1995.

Page 1293

ARGUED: William H. Murphy, Jr., Baltimore, MD, for appellant. Katharine J. Armentrout, Asst. U.S. Atty., Baltimore, MD, for appellee. ON BRIEF: Lynne A. Battaglia, U.S. Atty., Robert R. Harding, Asst. U.S. Atty., Baltimore, MD, for appellee.

Before NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge, PHILLIPS, Senior Circuit Judge, and YOUNG, Senior United States District Judge for the District of Maryland, sitting by designation.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge NIEMEYER wrote the opinion, in which Senior Judge YOUNG joined, and Senior Judge PHILLIPS wrote a specially concurring opinion.

OPINION

NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge:

Daniel Oriakhi was indicted by a grand jury in the District of Maryland for participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and for possessing heroin with the intent to distribute on two separate occasions. During trial, the government introduced evidence seized in two separate searches in the New York area in December 1990, as well as evidence obtained through court-approved wiretaps. Oriakhi was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 300 months imprisonment. He now challenges various aspects of his trial, contending principally that both searches in the New York area were illegal, that the wiretaps were illegally obtained, and therefore that important evidence obtained from these searches and wiretaps should not have been admitted at trial. Finding his arguments unpersuasive, we affirm.

I

During the period from late 1988 through April 1990, two large scale heroin distribution organizations were operating in the Baltimore area, one headed by Robert Dowdy, the other by Linwood Williams. Both organizations were supplied heroin by Daniel Oriakhi and his partners. Oriakhi originally worked with his brother, Felix Oriakhi, to smuggle heroin into the United States from their native Nigeria. When Daniel and Felix Oriakhi broke off their relationship in the late fall of 1989, Daniel Oriakhi formed a new partnership with Raymond Ebo, who resided in New York. Together Daniel Oriakhi and Ebo continued to supply heroin to the Dowdy and Williams organizations in Baltimore. Oriakhi and Ebo sent couriers to Nairobi, Kenya, to obtain kilogram quantities of heroin from a Nairobi supplier and then to smuggle the drugs into the United States for distribution.

Oriakhi's participation as a supplier to the Baltimore organizations first came to the government's attention in 1989 during an investigation of the Dowdy and Williams organizations by the Baltimore police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Government agents were able to observe Daniel Oriakhi actually deliver heroin to Dowdy at Dowdy's apartment in Baltimore and to Williams at the Owings Mills Mall north of Baltimore. Surveillance officers also followed Oriakhi and observed him hand two men a bag which was later seized and found to contain $47,000 in cash.

When Dowdy was arrested in February 1990, he agreed to cooperate with the government's ongoing investigation of the Baltimore organizations. Oriakhi's brother Felix was arrested a short time later, but Daniel Oriakhi fled the United States to Nigeria. Notwithstanding his flight, in June 1990 Daniel Oriakhi was indicted along with seven others for conspiracy to import heroin into the United States in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 963.

Oriakhi returned to the United States later in the summer of 1990 with a false passport issued in the name of "Adoga Smith." Oriakhi apparently continued his drug enterprise under the names "Adoga Smith" and "The Adoga Smith Company," although government officials were not able at the time to connect Oriakhi with his "Adoga Smith" alias.

Page 1294

Still unaware in December 1990 that "Adoga Smith" was an alias for Oriakhi, federal officials conducted two separate searches of "Adoga Smith" in the New York area on December 10 and December 13. On December 10, 1990, at Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, U.S. Customs Inspectors examined several hundred dock receipts for cargo containers with foreign destinations. The inspectors were looking for "unusual shipments," including shipments bound for narcotic source countries or countries subject to embargo and shipments accompanied by incomplete or suspicious paperwork. One of the receipts they examined was for a 40-foot container bound for Lagos, Nigeria, which purportedly contained a Nissan 300-ZX and household and personal effects, but which otherwise gave "very vague" information and omitted any identification of a shipper or a consignee. An initial search of the container disclosed that many of the items were marked with labels of the "Adoga Smith Company." After customs officials received information that "Adoga Smith" might be involved in heroin trafficking, they conducted more extensive searches of the container. They learned, inter alia, that the Nissan 300-ZX was registered to a non-existent address in Brooklyn, New York. Several months later, customs officials effected a forfeiture of the container's contents, some of which were used as evidence against Oriakhi in his trial in the District of Maryland.

Three days after the search in Port Elizabeth, an independent search was conducted of Oriakhi at the J.F.K. International Airport in New York. Oriakhi had checked some luggage under "Adoga Smith" on a Swissair flight bound for Zurich, Switzerland, but Oriakhi's bags were checked through to Lagos, Nigeria. A Swissair official, as a matter of course, notified the U.S. Customs Contraband Enforcement Team that some baggage had been checked through to Nigeria and was about to be loaded onto the plane. The Contraband Enforcement Team typically scrutinizes freight and passengers arriving from and departing to locations considered suspicious for one of several reasons. High risk areas on the in-bound side include narcotic source countries and "transit countries" from which seizures have been made in the past. On the out-bound side, the Team focuses on passengers and baggage headed for countries considered to be high risk destinations for the illegal export of U.S. currency or critical technology. The Team regards Nigeria as a high risk country on in-bound flights because of the potential for concealed narcotics and a "light risk" country on out-bound flights because of the potential for the export of currency which may be the proceeds from drug trafficking.

Customs officials at J.F.K. proceeded to examine the bags checked by Oriakhi for destination to Lagos, Nigeria, in the Swissair baggage room with a portable x-ray machine. The x-ray of one suitcase disclosed the image of a handgun. The inspectors opened the suitcase and found two 9mm semi-automatic handguns and 10 boxes of 9mm ammunition. They then learned that the suitcase had been checked by a passenger named "Adoga Smith" and proceeded to open and search the other bags checked under that name. The inspectors found $10,000 in $100 bills in the pocket of a pair of pants in one of the other bags.

A customs officer then had Swissair make an announcement requesting "Adoga Smith" to disembark from the plane. Oriakhi voluntarily walked off the plane and was questioned by the customs officer on the Jetway. After examining his passport, the officer explained to Oriakhi that currency reporting laws required anyone leaving the country with $10,000 or more to fill out a particular form. The officer asked Oriakhi to fill out such a form, which he did, declaring that he was leaving the country with only $2,000. The officer then searched Oriakhi's person by patting him down. Numerous packets of U.S. currency totalling $97,000 were discovered on Oriakhi's person. An additional $5,000 was recovered from the attache case he was carrying. The customs officer read Oriakhi his Miranda warnings and arrested him, charging him in the Eastern District of New York with currency and weapons violations. But law enforcement officials were still unaware of Oriakhi's true identity or that he was the subject of an indictment in Maryland.

Page 1295

Subsequently in Maryland, a cooperating witness, Barbara Obot, who had acted as a courier for Oriakhi, informed officers that Oriakhi had been arrested in New York under the name "Adoga Smith." A writ of habeas corpus was issued for Oriakhi from the District of Maryland and he was returned and reindicted by a federal grand jury in three counts, charging him with (1) conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute heroin from late 1988 until April 1990; (2) possession with intent to distribute heroin on or about February 5 and 6, 1990; and (3) possession with intent to distribute heroin on or about February 18 to 22, 1990. The original indictment in which Oriakhi had been charged with seven others for conspiracy to import heroin was dismissed.

Oriakhi filed motions to suppress evidence obtained from the New York searches and wiretaps, which were denied. In December 1992 the jury found Oriakhi guilty on all counts. The court sentenced Oriakhi to concurrent terms of 300 months imprisonment on each count. The sentences were also designated to run concurrently with the sentence imposed by the Eastern District of New York for the currency and firearms violations.

II

Oriakhi's strongest argument on appeal is his challenge to the admission of evidence seized during the New Jersey port search of his freight container and the New York airport search of his luggage in December 1990. Neither search was conducted pursuant to a warrant. Oriakhi contends that the searches were conducted in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights because they were conducted without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion. 1 Although Oriakhi acknowledges that these searches occurred "at the border" 2 and that routine searches of...

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78 practice notes
  • Johnson v. Nagle, No. CV-93-N-1121-S.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Alabama
    • July 23, 1999
    ...all — a practice which has been approved by, and sometimes even endorsed, by several federal courts. See, e.g., United States v. Oriakhi, 57 F.3d 1290, 1300 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 952, 116 S.Ct. 400, 133 L.Ed.2d 319 (1995) (court should not attempt to define reasonable doubt abs......
  • U.S. v. Najjar, No. 00-4296.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • August 6, 2002
    ...for a district court to define reasonable doubt for a jury unless the jury itself requests a definition. See United States v. Oriakhi, 57 F.3d 1290, 1300 (4th Cir.1995). There was no jury request here, and so, there is no basis to grant Tri-City or Najjar relief on this The defendants' conv......
  • United States v. Madrid, No. EP–11–CR–2903–DB(2),(4).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • September 25, 2012
    ...[is] sufficient to justify the issuance of each of the wiretap authorizations.” Campos, 541 F.3d at 749;see also United States v. Oriakhi, 57 F.3d 1290, 1298 (4th Cir.1995) (“While the several affidavits for the various wiretaps involved may have relied on the same facts, their recitation w......
  • U.S. v. Smith, No. 03-4829.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • March 21, 2006
    ...the term `reasonable doubt' in a jury instruction absent a specific request for such a definition from the jury." U.S. v. Oriakhi, 57 F.3d 1290, 1300 (4th Cir. 1995). A district court may also restrict counsel from defining the phrase. Patterson, 150 F.3d at 389. Here, the district cou......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
77 cases
  • Johnson v. Nagle, No. CV-93-N-1121-S.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Alabama
    • July 23, 1999
    ...all — a practice which has been approved by, and sometimes even endorsed, by several federal courts. See, e.g., United States v. Oriakhi, 57 F.3d 1290, 1300 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 952, 116 S.Ct. 400, 133 L.Ed.2d 319 (1995) (court should not attempt to define reasonable doubt abs......
  • U.S. v. Najjar, No. 00-4296.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • August 6, 2002
    ...for a district court to define reasonable doubt for a jury unless the jury itself requests a definition. See United States v. Oriakhi, 57 F.3d 1290, 1300 (4th Cir.1995). There was no jury request here, and so, there is no basis to grant Tri-City or Najjar relief on this The defendants' conv......
  • United States v. Madrid, No. EP–11–CR–2903–DB(2),(4).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • September 25, 2012
    ...[is] sufficient to justify the issuance of each of the wiretap authorizations.” Campos, 541 F.3d at 749;see also United States v. Oriakhi, 57 F.3d 1290, 1298 (4th Cir.1995) (“While the several affidavits for the various wiretaps involved may have relied on the same facts, their recitation w......
  • U.S. v. Smith, No. 03-4829.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • March 21, 2006
    ...define the term `reasonable doubt' in a jury instruction absent a specific request for such a definition from the jury." U.S. v. Oriakhi, 57 F.3d 1290, 1300 (4th Cir. 1995). A district court may also restrict counsel from defining the phrase. Patterson, 150 F.3d at 389. Here, the district c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS FRAUD
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...did not violate the Fourth Amendment (citing United States v. Berisha, 925 F.2d 791, 795 (5th Cir. 1991))); United States v. Oriakhi, 57 F.3d 1290, 1296–97 (4th Cir. 1995) (holding that a border search did not violate the Fourth Amendment because of the government’s interest in regulating c......

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