United States v. $22,470 (9th Cir. 2001) 246 F.3d 1212

Currency Sniff

Contact was made with subject because of a tip that he might be a drug courier. Subject also purchased a one way ticket with cash and PSD had alerted to his checked luggage. However, subject got on a plane and was able to fly to his destination before being contacted by LE. When LE did contact him, he gave conflicting stories and admitted he has a prior for cocaine trafficking. He also had several bundles of cash (the subject property in this case). PSD alerted on the currency.

The 9th Circuit court indicated that ordinarily  they would give little weight to the positive alerts of the PSD on the currency because of the contamination issue, but in this case, there was undisputed evidence supplied by the government that PSD was trained to, and would only, alert to the odor of a chemical by-product of cocaine called methyl benzoate. Moreover, the government provided evidence that unless the currency subject was carrying had recently been in the proximity of cocaine, PSD would not have alerted to it. Therefore, under the totality of the circumstances, there were numerous facts which established probable cause to believe that the money seized from claimant was to be used in drug-related activity. Subject purchased with cash, a same day one-way ticket to a known source city for drugs, consistent with a drug courier profile, and gave conflicting statements regarding the amount of money he was carrying, the origin of the money, and the address of the person he claimed to be visiting. Furthermore, the sophisticated dog sniff and subject’s admission that he had a prior conviction for cocaine trafficking provide the necessary link.