Vice Squad
Thursday, April 01, 2004
Unconventional Electricity Usage, Trash Handling Leads to Search

Drug WarRant has been detailing (here on March 28, and here on March 31) a California case where a search warrant to look for illegal drugs was obtained thanks to high electricity bills and -- wait for it..... -- the fact that the householders did not take their trash out the night before pick-up. Rather, they delayed until the morning of pick-up! Probable cause that they are running a marijuana grow operation? Well, heck, it's airtight, practically beyond a reasonable doubt. A friend of Vice Squad e-mailed about the story, and included the following snippet from the search warrant:

"During the last two weeks, I have conducted surveillance of the residence and
adjacent residences in the neighborhood, to monitor trash dispensing
practices. I noticed that several of the occupants of adjacent homes in the
neighborhood placed their residential trash receptacles on the curb the night
before the regularly scheduled trash pick-up day... This was not the practice
of the occupants of 7021 Ivy Street... I noticed that the trash receptacles
from this address were not placed on the curb for pick-up until Thursday
mornings [trash pick-up day] after 7:00 AM. It has been my experience that
some narcotics offenders know law enforcement practice of investigation and
that retrieving evidence from a narcotics offender's trash receptacle is an
investigative tool that investigators use. Narcotics offenders who discard
evidence into their trash receptacles and then place their receptacles at the
curb for pick-up for an extended period of time, run the risk of being
discovered by law enforcement."

My correspondent's response: "I had no idea that taking the trash out on trash pick-up day was such a suspect activity. Furthermore, I am amazed that police officers have the time to conduct a two week surveillance operation to monitor 'trash dispensing practices.'"

The search warrant also has some wonderful pieces that border on self-parody: "I wish to search...for the following contraband to wit: controlled substances, including but not limited to marijuana, also known as "Weed", "grass", "the Devil's weed" and "Smoke" including loose marijuana, kilos of marijuana, baggies of marijuana, marijuana cigarettes, marijuana seeds, derivatives of marijuana, marijuana plants, articles and effects used in the cultivation of marijuana, paraphernalia used for packaging, sales, and consumption of marijuana; including but not limited to folded papers, paper bindles, clear plastic and cellophane bags and envelopes, scales, odor masking agents; and fingerprints, handwriting, papers, firearms, written articles pertaining to drugs, narcotics and the use of same..."

I am glad they capitalized "Weed".

The search found nothing, of course, though I can't believe the family didn't have some folded papers lying about. And now written articles pertaining to drugs are a problem? Better search here.

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