United States v. Correa, No. 16-2316 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
DEA task force members lawfully found drugs in a traffic stop and seized several garage openers and keys they found in the car. An agent took the garage openers and drove around downtown Chicago pushing their buttons to look for a suspected stash house. He found the right building when the door of a shared garage opened. The agent then used a seized key fob and mailbox key to enter the building’s locked lobby and pinpoint the target condominium. Another agent sought and obtained the arrestee’s consent to search the target condo. The search turned up extensive evidence of drug trafficking. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a motion to suppress the drug trafficking evidence. While the use of the garage door opener was a search and was "close to the edge," it did not violate the Fourth Amendment, which does not forbid this technique to identify the building or door associated with the opener, at least where the search discloses no further information. Use of the key fob and mailbox key in the lobby was not unlawful because the defendants had no right to exclude people from the lobby area. At all other stages of the investigation, the agents also complied with the Fourth Amendment.