United States v. Caira, No. 14-1003 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Someone used the email address firstname.lastname@example.org to contact a Vietnamese website in an attempt to buy sassafras oil, a chemical that can be used to make the illegal drug known as ecstasy. The website was being monitored by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which began an investigation that culminated in Caira being convicted on drug charges. A key step in the investigation was learning that Caira was the person behind the email@example.com address. The DEA made that discovery by issuing administrative subpoenas to technology companies, without getting a warrant. The district court denied a motion to suppress and the Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the DEA conducted an “unreasonable search” in violation of the Fourth Amendment, Because Caira voluntarily shared the relevant information with technology companies, he did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the information, so his Fourth Amendment rights were not violated. The court characterized as “harmless” the district court’s errors imposing conditions of supervised release without justifying them on the record. Caira is serving a life sentence for another conviction. He is not expected to be released from prison so the conditions are not expected to be imposed.