U.S. v. Ruffin (Ohio 2020) 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 34732

Alert as Probable Cause

LE received an anonymous tip that subject planned to drive in a black SUV from one city in Ohio to another to purchase heroin from Mexican drug dealers. The tipster provided the license plate number. The tipster remained in contact with LE and alerted LE when they were within 15 minutes of their destination. LE set up surveillance and saw the black SUV pull up. After a three hour wait, two Mexican males came to the house and stayed for a short time and then left. The tipster messaged that subject had just purchased heroin from those males. Subject told tipster he had to use the bathroom first and tipster saw subject take the baggie of heroin with him. He was in there for about 20 minutes and then drove off. LE followed him and when he committed a traffic violation, he was pulled over. A PSD alerted on the vehicle which provided probable cause. A search of the vehicle and subject produced no heroin. LE suspected subject had concealed drugs in his anal cavity. They obtained a body cavity search warrant and took subject to the hospital for the search. A nurse did a digital exam and told LE that she felt something (this was also written in the medical records). Then the nurse inserted an instrument to visually inspect inside subject’s rectum. She saw a piece of plastic wrap. An X-ray was ordered and the treating physician saw 3 round objects so a soap suds enema was ordered. Between 2 and 4 enemas were used until subject released 3 golf ball sized bags of heroin and fentanyl.

Taken together, the court held that the above facts were sufficient to provide a fair probability that subject has secreted drugs on his person and therefore constituted probable cause. This included the PSD evidence. There was discussion about how the search was handled with the court suggesting LE start with an X-ray rather than sticking things up his rectum first.