United States vs. Sokolow

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This case was about a guy Andrew Sokolow who was searches and investigated at the Honolulu airport because of his appearance and his activity. He paid for two airline roundtrip tickets in cash from a 20 dollar bill roll, he was wearing a black jumpsuit and gold chains, he traveled under a different name from that on his home phone number and he never checked any of his 4 bags. The person that sold him the tickets reported him to the DEA saying that he looked nervous and suspicious and on his way back to Honolulu, Sokolow was stopped and searched.

My opinion for this case is split in two, even though I am leaning more towards the opinion of the court. Sokolow's appearance and behavior would look a little suspicious. First of all he looked nervous, he acted nervous and the fact that he paid 2100 dollars in cash which is not very common and did not check his bags does seem a little suspicious.

I agree with the opinion of the court that going on a 20 hour flight to Miami for a short term of 48 hours and then coming back doesn't seem right. Even though I have to consider that many people go on a far business trip for a day or two and they come back, however they don't look doubtful. Sokolow was not a very smart man. If you know you are involve in illegal activities and you are about to bring cocaine through the airport don't be so obvious and stupid. He paid in cash, he put on a jumpsuit and gold chains and when he came back to the airport he wore the same clothes and was easily recognized. The DEA is responsible and they should check anything that seems mistrustful. I don't think that the DEA violated his privacy by letting the dog sniff his bags because sniff of checked baggage is not a search. A sniff is allowed in a public airport. After a trained narcotics dog positive alert to baggage for narcotics, officers have probable cause to seize the baggage and obtain search warrant. The only mistake that the investigators did is that they did not stop him inside the airport but outside on the sidewalk. That could be considered as invading of privacy.

In the other hand I do believe that everyone has the right to wear anything they want. Just because Sokolow was wearing a black jumpsuit and was paying in cash does not mean he was a drug dealer or he was smuggling drugs. May be that was his choice of attire and he was very rich and had that much money in cash on him. Even though I still think it doesn't look right, you never know what kind of stile one has. The thing that gave him up however the most, wan not the way he was dressed but the way e was acting. He was nervous, he was constantly looking around and those are the signs of suspicion on the airports. If you are carrying something that you should not have been carrying on the airport, you have to be calm and relaxed and friendly in stead of worried and nervous.

In conclusion I can say that appearance doesn't always lead to suspicion, however there are many factors involved and putting all those factors together the DEA had every right to sniff Sokolow's luggage and get a warrant to search it.