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United States v. Knuckles

March 24, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ZABULA KNUCKLES, JARAE AARON LINDSEY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

ORDER

BACKGROUND

On October 25, 2007, a grand jury sitting in the Middle District of Pennsylvania returned an indictment charging defendant Zabula Knuckles, along with several co-defendants, with various drug trafficking offenses. (Rec. Doc. No. 1.) On October 29, 2007, Knuckles was arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges.

On February 1, 2008, Knuckles filed a motion to suppress physical evidence. (Rec. Doc. No. 123.) The same day, Knuckles filed a "Motion for Discovery of Drug Detector Canine Information." (Rec. Doc. No. 121.) On February 4, 2008, we denied Knuckles' discovery motion because it did not indicate that Knuckles had requested the desired discovery from the government. (Rec. Doc. No. 126.)

On February 22, 2008, Knuckles filed an "Amended Motion for Discovery of Drug Detector Canine Information." (Rec. Doc. No. 148.) On February 15, 2008, co-defendant Jarae Aaron Lindsey filed a notice joining in Knuckles' motion to suppress. (Rec. Doc. No. 142.)

Opposing and reply briefs have been filed for both motions and they are ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, we will deny both motions.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

On October 3, 2007, an Express Mail package arrived at the Post Office in Montandon, Pennsylvania with a return address listed as "Beverly Smith, 3759 N. Abby, Fresno, CA 93726" and addressed to "Angie Walter, P.O. Box 545, Montandon, PA 17850." This post office box was registered to Angela Walter, a co-defendant in this case. Walter had previously filled out an application for the post office box and identified herself as the only person authorized to accept mail addressed to that box. Furthermore, an ACCURINT search of the return address listed an apartment building as being at that address. Although no Beverly Smith was determined to receive mail at that building, Knuckles and co-defendant Renita Denise Morris were registered to an apartment there.

The postmaster in the Montandon Post Office had previously heard through a news account that there was recently a drug investigation at Angela Walter's trailer.

Furthermore, she was aware that only letter-size mail would generally come to Walter's post office box. Finally, she was aware from training that Express Mail is commonly used to transport narcotics across the country. Therefore, her suspicions aroused, the postmaster forwarded the package to postal inspectors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On October 17 2007, the parcel was exposed to a drug detention canine who provided a positive alert to the presence of controlled substances in the parcel. Later that day, the postal inspector applied for a search warrant, which was authorized by a magistrate judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The package was opened and the police seized a cellular phone and 80 grams of crack cocaine.

The same day that the package was opened, an individual called the Montandon Post Office to inquire about the package. Law enforcement offices arranged for a controlled delivery of the package, resealing the package and replacing all but five grams of the crack cocaine with a fake substance and also placing a transmitter into the package.

The government alleges that on October 25, 2007, Knuckles allegedly entered the Montandon Post Office to claim the parcel. He left with the package and entered his vehicle. Law enforcement pursued the vehicle and attempted to pull it over, and after a brief high speed chase, Knuckles pulled over. At that time, he and two male occupants, one of whom was co-defendant Jarae ...


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