United States v. Crawford, No. 18-6239 (6th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Officer Nelson learned from Heard, who was previously unknown to Nelson, that Crawford was dealing cocaine. Heard identified Crawford’s driver’s license photograph and provided Crawford’s telephone number. Nelson contacted the Drug Abuse Reduction Task Force and the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force; both confirmed Heard’s reliability as an informant. Nelson reviewed Crawford’s drug-trafficking convictions. Heard showed Nelson text messages between Crawford and Heard. Nelson obtained a state court warrant to electronically track Crawford’s cellphone. Heard told Nelson that Crawford drove a silver 2003 BMW X5 and, using the license plate number provided by Heard, Nelson learned that the vehicle was registered to Crawford at a Cincinnati residence. Cellphone data placed Crawford near a Florence, Kentucky apartment, leased to Crawford’s wife. Nelson surveilled the apartment. He saw Crawford exit the apartment and leave in the BMW. A warrant issued, authorizing officers to use GPS tracking on that vehicle. Weeks later, Heard completed a controlled drug buy from Crawford. Another search warrant was issued for Crawford’s apartment, where officers found cocaine and $1,390 in tagged bills used in the controlled buy. Mirandized, Crawford incriminated himself, admitting that he sold the cocaine on consignment and that he had placed cocaine under his sink. Crawford unsuccessfully argued that the warrants should not have issued. The Sixth Circuit affirmed Crawford’s convictions and 216-month sentence, finding the warrants justified. The informant’s reliability was confirmed by law enforcement agencies and through the affiant officer’s own research. Key information disclosed by the informant proved credible.