Mysterious Marijuana Delivery from UPS and The Party Animal

Mysterious Marijuana Delivery Cannabis and UPS in Polk County
Mysterious Marijuana Delivery
The cops in Polk County Intercepted a package at United Parcel Service. They got a search warrant for the package opened it and found 10 pounds of weed. The cops then dressed as a UPS delivery driver and tried to deliver the package to a residence in Lakeland. The residents wisely declined to accept the delivery and were observed walking around their yard. One guy had a hairstyle that was described as being like Popeye with a pipe painted green in his mouth. The cop said that that was consistent with a person who was waiting for a marijuana delivery and detained him. Court ruled even a "pot-smoking sailor hair design" is not enough to save this bust.

"Mr. Mason was observed to have a design cut into his hair that apparently resembled Popeye (the famed cartoon sailor) with the pipe spray-painted green. Mr. Mason explained to the detectives that the color green signified marijuana."

The cop then threatened to search a vehicle, call a dog, and then searched everything. Ultimately drugs were found everywhere. A motion to suppress was filed in the trial court and the motion was denied. However, the district court of appeals just ruled that the strange Popeye hair design and pacing frantically around your yard does not constitute grounds to detain people for a marijuana investigation and search.

"Accordingly, we reverse the circuit court's denial of the motion to suppress as it pertains to Mr. Johns, as well as the judgments and sentences that were entered based upon his plea agreement. "

Excerpts from the Opinion:

A mysterious parcel package was intercepted while en route to be delivered.  It contained approximately ten pounds of marijuana.  Someone sent the package.  Someone was presumably going to pick it up.  The principal question this appeal presents is whether investigating detectives had a reasonable suspicion that in the driveway of the package's destination.  We hold they did not. 

In early December 2012, a detective monitoring shipments in a UPS facility discovered a suspicious looking package from "The Party Animal" addressed to a fictitious person named "Raymond Maven" that was on its way to be delivered to an address on West Dossey Road in Lakeland.  He obtained a search warrant, opened it, and found about ten pounds of marijuana in heat-sealed bags.

As the detectives watched, Detective Edison, disguised as a UPS driver, approached the duplex, knocked on the unit door, and waited.  No one ever answered, and so the disguised detective left without leaving the package behind.  A short while later, Mr. Whitaker emerged from the unit's doorway and appeared to look around the front door and yard before returning inside. 

We need not recount the lengthy trail of warrants and evidence that proceeded from the arrest of Messrs. Mason and Johns.  Suffice it to say that there were more illegal drugs found in Mr. Mason's car at the gas station, more incriminating evidence found on Mr. Mason's cell phone, and, pertinent here, the entirety of the evidence the State would use against Mr. Johns in the case at bar.

Mr. Johns filed a motion to suppress this incriminating evidence.  After hearing the evidence described above, the circuit court denied the motion.

Mr. Mason, who had been seen at the same duplex earlier and whose pot-smoking sailor hair design and furtive actions at the duplex (pacing in the driveway, talking on his cell phone, looking around) were "consistent with someone that is looking for a package of cannabis as opposed to someone that is looking to rent a room"

And to the extent Mr. Mason's actions could be said to have generated a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity (an issue we do not reach here), Mr. Mason's appearance and activities that morning would not supply a reasonable suspicion that Mr. Johns was connected with those activities, absent some evidence of an actual connection.

Having determined he was illegally stopped, we readily agree with Mr. Johns that the consent he gave to search his vehicle was invalidated by his unlawful detention.  We have previously explained:
If a person has been illegally seized by police and subsequently consents to a search, "the State bears the burden of showing by clear and convincing proof that there was an unequivocal break in the chain of illegality sufficient to dissipate the taint of the law enforcement's prior illegal activity."

The vehicle's mere presence near the scene is insufficient to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that its occupants were connected . . . .

"Accordingly, we reverse the circuit court's denial of the motion to suppress as it pertains to Mr. Johns, as well as the judgments and sentences that were entered based upon his plea agreement. "

The Marijuana Court Opinion:

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