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Co. Traffic Stop Leads to $10M in Cocaine

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on September 13, 2011 1:12 PM

During a routine traffic stop on Sunday, police in Pueblo, Co. confiscated 220 pounds of cocaine from a rental car belonging to California residents Mark Bailey and Lisa Calderon.

Worth $10 million, the cocaine, which was headed to Iowa, was packed into four duffle bags stored in the trunk.

A drug-sniffing dog alerted officers to its presence.

Mark Bailey and Lisa Calderon would likely not have been caught if it weren't for an off-duty detective who called in an illegal lane change, reports the Pueblo Chieftain.

When police found the couple, they determined that Bailey was driving with a suspended license, and, according to Reuters, when questioned, Calderon was visibly nervous.

Pueblo police arrested Bailey and called in the K-9 unit, leading to the drug bust.

Which leads to the question: When can police use a drug-sniffing dog during a traffic stop?

Under the 4th Amendment, police can only detain a motorist for a reasonable duration, which is usually defined as the time necessary to issue a ticket.

Police can use a drug-sniffing dog during this period, but absent reasonable suspicion, may not extend the duration of the traffic stop simply to use the dog.

In the case of Mark Bailey and Lisa Calderon, it not only appears as though Pueblo police had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, they had proof. When a person is arrested during a traffic stop--even for a suspended license--police can use a drug-sniffing dog, as there is no reasonable expectation of privacy to the scent emanating from your vehicle.

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