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United States v. Mora, — F.3d —, No. 19-2097 (10th Cir. 2021) (Feb. 24, 2021)

Feb 24, 2021

In this alien smuggling case, police received a 911 call which led them to a Walmart parking lot with 14 individuals without IDs.  The 911 caller mentioned a tractor trailer, which the police connected with defendant.  The officers performed a “protective sweep” of the defendant’s home, which led to discovery of a gun safe and ammunition.  The officers then used that information to obtain a warrant.  On appeal challenging convictions related to the weapons, the Tenth Circuit held there were no exigent circumstances to justify the protective sweep or based upon alleged alien safety.  The officers arrived at the home before the suspect, negating any alien safety claim; and detained suspect and his wife outside the home, negating any claim regarding officer safety.  With the gun safe and ammunition information excised from the warrant, there was no probable cause justifying the warrant.