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United States v. Mayomi

decided: May 1, 1989.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
IBUKUN O. MAYOMI, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 86 CR 535-Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge.

Author: Coffey

Before COFFEY, RIPPLE, and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

COFFEY, Circuit Judge. Defendant-appellant Ibukun O. Mayomi appeals his conviction before a jury on one count of attempted possession of heroin with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, one count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and seven counts of importation of a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 952(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. We affirm.

I.

In 1985 defendant Mayomi, using the assumed name Nike Akinsola, rented a postal box from Scanner Services,*fn1 a lamp company that also operates a private mailbox service. The mailboxes were located at 1744 West Devon Street, Chicago, Illinois. During the period Mayomi received his mail at Scanner Services, he made frequent telephone inquiries concerning whether he had received mail.

On July 8, 1986, Agent James St. John of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Chicago office received a tip that an envelope containing a light brown powder had arrived at Scanner Services the previous day. Knowing that heroin was similar in appearance to the powder described by the tipster, St. John went to Scanner Services and interviewed the manager of the company, David Ashton. Ashton stated that the previous day, while he was sorting mail, he accidentally cut open an envelope addressed to Nike Akinsola and observed a brown powder fall from the envelope. Ashton thereafter turned the envelope and its contents over to St. John and informed him that on previous occasions he had observed other letters addressed to Akinsola that were very similar in appearance to the one he had accidentally cut open. St. John observed that the envelope did not contain a return address, and was postmarked Madras, India. St. John performed a field test on the contents of the envelope and determined that the brown powder was heroin. St. John instructed Ashton to detain any similar envelopes addressed to Akinsola received thereafter and requested that the FBI be immediately notified of its arrival.

On July 9, St. John interviewed an agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration who informed him that a common way of smuggling heroin into the United States from India was to mail it to private postal boxes. St. John thereafter subpoenaed the records for the defendant's mailbox from Scanner Services, and they reflected that Nike Akinsola lived at 4650 North Sheridan Road, Chicago, Illinois, and listed his phone number as 728-7894. St. John discovered that the address was that of a one-story supermarket and that the phone number was false as it was neither assigned to Nike Akinsola nor listed to the address the defendant provided on his mailbox registration form.

On Saturday, July 12, 1986, St. John contacted Ashton and learned that two more envelopes postmarked in India and addressed to the defendant had just arrived at Scanner Services. St. John instructed Ashton to hold the letters until the following Monday.

St. John arrived at Scanner Services on Monday, July 14, with two Illinois State Police Troopers and two police dogs specially trained to sniff and detect narcotics. After Ashton informed St. John that a third letter addressed to Akinsola had arrived that day, the three letters were commingled with other mail also received at Scanner Services that day. According to St. John, the dogs detected narcotics in one of the three envelopes. St. John then performed an external examination of the three envelopes, without opening them, and determined that each contained a powdery substance. Based upon this information, a United States Magistrate issued a search warrant for the three envelopes later that same day.

On July 15, St. John transported the three envelopes to the FBI laboratory in Washington, D.C., where the Bureau's chemists analyzed the substance contained in the envelopes and determined that it was heroin. The bulk of the heroin was replaced by talc powder, the envelopes were resealed, and, on the following day, were returned to the defendant's mailbox for purposes of a controlled delivery. Additionally, a surveillance team was maintained inside and outside the building where the defendant's mailbox was located.

On July 17, the defendant, after calling Scanner Services and being informed that there was mail in his box, drove to Scanner Services, inspected the envelopes in his mailbox, and left without taking them. He then drove to Evanston, Illinois, where federal agents observed him make a call from a public telephone. The defendant thereafter met with a woman who entered his car. The two of them returned to Scanner Services where the woman entered the mailbox area, removed the three envelopes, and returned with them to the car. The couple then returned to Evanston, and the woman exited the car. The defendant drove to another location on the north side of Chicago, left the vehicle without the envelopes and entered an apartment building adjacent to the area where he had parked the car. Shortly thereafter, federal agents arrested the defendant. The agents confiscated the three envelopes from the car's glove compartment, as well as the Scanner Services mailbox keys he had in his possession and a pocket beeper.

After the defendant's July 17 arrest, Scanner Services received three additional envelopes addressed to Nike Akinsola similar in appearance to the envelopes previously inspected by the FBI. St. John obtained another search warrant for these three envelopes, opened them, and discovered each to contain a powdery substance similar to that found in the previously examined envelopes. St. John field tested the powder and determined that it contained brown heroin. The street value of the heroin recovered from the seven envelopes received at Scanner Services was estimated to be between $200,000 and $250,000.

On August 14, 1986, the Northern District of Illinois Special October 1984 Grand Jury indicted Mayomi on one count of attempted possession of heroin with intent to distribute, one count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and seven counts of importation of a controlled substance. On September 25, 1986, Mayomi entered a plea of not guilty to all counts set forth in the indictment.

The defendant filed motions to quash the search warrants and to suppress the evidence confiscated arguing that his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. Specifically, Mayomi alleged that the FBI, in detaining his mail at Scanner Services, had seized his property without a warrant and that there was insufficient probable cause for the magistrate to issue a ...


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