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United States v. Blodgett

United States District Court, D. Alaska

April 20, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RICKY ALAN BLODGETT, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          Sharon L. Gleason UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Motion to Suppress filed by Defendant at Docket 42. The motion seeks to suppress evidence seized from a package that was on route to Defendant Ricky Alan Blodgett via FedEx. The Government opposed at Docket 48. An evidentiary hearing on the motion was held on March 9 and March 14, 2018. Three witnesses testified: Christian Turcic and Brian Mustacci, both FedEx employees, and Alaska State Trooper Shayne Calt.

         DISCUSSION

         Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the Court finds as follows:

1. FedEx cooperates with law enforcement to do package watches. A package watch occurs when law enforcement asks FedEx to look out for a particular type of package, such as one addressed to a particular address or person. If FedEx comes across such a package at its facility, FedEx removes that package from the delivery line and brings it to the security office at FedEx. FedEx then contacts the law enforcement officer who had asked for the package watch and informs the officer of its action.
2. FedEx employee Christian Turcic testified FedEx performs package watches as a courtesy to law enforcement.
3. FedEx's airway bill contains a notice that informs the shipper that the package is subject to being inspected or searched.
4. One reason that FedEx x-rays a package that law enforcement has requested to set aside is to make sure that there is nothing dangerous in such a package that could harm FedEx's employees.
5. FedEx prioritizes running its own business operation over responding to requests of law enforcement, but it tries to respond to every request from law enforcement to pull packages.
6. Brian Mustacci works as an international security manager for FedEx in Anchorage. Part of his job is to prevent FedEx from shipping narcotics around the country and the world. He testified that when law enforcement requests that a package in FedEx's custody be detained, he does so-he estimated on average once ever one to two weeks.
7. Trooper Calt testified that he received a tip on February 24, 2015 that on the previous day, February 23, 2015, Mr. Blodgett had received a package of heroin via FedEx. Based on that information, he asked FedEx to keep a watch out for any additional packages going to Mr. Blodgett, detain any such additional packages, and notify the trooper. Trooper Calt was very clear that he did not direct FedEx to set aside any such package: “They are a private company and they do what is in their best interest, not in mine.” 8. A package was sent via FedEx to Mr. Blodgett on February 27, 2015. It was scheduled to be delivered to Mr. Blodgett on March 3, 2015 by 12:00 p.m.
9. Mr. Mustacci identified the package on Saturday, February 28 and pulled it off the line. He then x-rayed it, although Trooper Calt had not specifically requested that he do so. Mr. Mustacci used his cell phone to take a photograph of the x-ray and sent the photo to Trooper Calt. He then placed the package in his locked office at FedEx.
10. Trooper Calt looked at the photograph on his phone and determined that the inside of the package contained a substance that looked consistent with heroin. He did not save a copy of the photo on his phone, and by the time anyone asked him for the ...

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