United States v. Ruffin, No. 19-3599 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
An informant told the DEA that Ruffin planned to drive to Columbus to purchase heroin from Mexican drug traffickers. She described the SUV, provided the license plate number, and stayed in contact throughout the trip. Agents watched Ruffin and the informant enter the house. Two Hispanic men entered the house briefly. The informant messaged the agents from inside the house that Ruffin had purchased a plastic bag of heroin, and, holding a plastic bag, had gone into the bathroom, where he stayed for about 20 minutes. Agents followed Ruffin until he committed a traffic infraction, then pulled him over. A drug dog alerted on the car. Searches of the car and Ruffin’s person yielded no evidence. The agents suspected that Ruffin had concealed the drugs inside his body. An Ohio magistrate issued a warrant for a body cavity search. Police took Ruffin to the hospital where a nurse conducted a finger-search of Ruffin’s rectum, with Ruffin shackled at the legs and one agent remaining in the room. The nurse’s notes say that she felt something in the anal cavity. The nurse then inserted an instrument to visually examine the inside of Ruffin’s rectum. The nurse’s notes indicate that she saw a foreign object. The physician ordered an X-ray, saw three objects, and ordered soap suds enemas until Ruffin released three bags of heroin and fentanyl.
The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of Ruffin’s motion to suppress the drugs. The facts created a “fair probability” that Ruffin had concealed the drugs in his body, so the magistrate did not “arbitrarily exercise” his discretion in finding probable cause. Although the search could have been handled better, the presence of a warrant, the absence of any safety risk, and the police’s need for evidence make this search reasonable.