United States v. Caraballo, No. 12-3839 (2d Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Defendant appealed his conviction for conspiring to distribute cocaine base, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and causing the death of Melissa Barratt. Defendant contends that the "pinging" of his cell phone was a search that violated the Fourth Amendment and that, as a result, the district court’s failure to suppress evidence recovered upon his arrest requires reversal of his conviction. In this case, officers investigating Barratt's death asked Sprint, defendant's cell-phone provider, to track the GPS coordinates of defendant's cell-phone over a two-hour period. The court found that the officers reasonably believed that defendant posed an exigent threat to the undercover officers and confidential informants involved in his drug operation. This threat justified the pinging of defendant's phone, a) which at most constituted a limited intrusion into his privacy interests, b) which objectively could be viewed as plausibly consistent with existing law, and c) which the officers used in the most limited way to achieve their necessary aim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.