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Court of appeals upholds no-knock warrant

State v. Marcus L. Pantoja, 2016AP1289, 7/05/17, District 1 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Police raided the apartment where Pantoja was living with his girlfriend; he claims on appeal that there was neither probable cause for the warrant nor reasonable suspicion of danger justifying its no-knock authorization, which turned up drugs and guns. The court of appeals disagrees and affirms.

The discussion on both points is fact-specific. As the court describes it, Pantoja argues “the affidavit failed to establish (1) a nexus between the drug trafficking activities on Winona Lane and 1st Street [the raided apartment], (2) the basis for the statements of the confidential informants that 1st Street was a stash house, and (3) the veracity—the credibility and reliability—of the informants.” (¶10). The court discusses and rejects each contention, finding sufficient evidence connecting Winona Lane (where Pantoja’s street-level dealing occurred) to 1st Street (where he was alleged to storing and bagging the drugs), and also finding the confidential informants credible and reliable based on their prior performance, their controlled buys, and corroboration of the tips they gave.

As to the no-knock provision, the court finds reasonable suspicion of dangerousness. In essence, it holds that Pantoja’s drug dealing operation, his known fear that his dealing location would be raided or robbed, and his reported inquiries about purchasing a gun a few days before the warrant execution met the burden. (¶¶28-29).

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