Argued: April 11, 2019
from the Marion Superior Court, No. 49D11-1711-MI-40912 The
Honorable John F. Hanley, Judge The Honorable Ian Stewart,
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Matthew S. Abels Indianapolis, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Stephen R. Creason Chief Counsel Justin F. Roebel
Supervising Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana
we address a narrow question: did probable cause support the
seizure of property that a court later ordered state police
officers to turn over to federal authorities? While we answer
this question affirmatively, we cannot-and do not-speculate
about whether civil forfeiture of the property would be
shipped box raised the suspicion of an interdiction officer:
it displayed hallmarks of parcels containing drugs and drug
money, and the officer's canine partner indicated the
package bore the scent of narcotics. The officer successfully
sought a warrant authorizing a search of the package and
seizure of, among other items, proceeds of drug trafficking.
officers opened the box, they found U.S. currency wrapped in
multiple layers of sealed packaging. After a canine alerted
that the money itself-not just the packaging-contained the
odor of narcotics, officers seized the cash and obtained a
court order to turn it over to federal authorities.
Hodges, the person who shipped the parcel, argues that the
seizure was unlawful because it exceeded the warrant's
scope-making the turnover of the cash improper. We disagree.
The totality of the circumstances established the necessary
probable cause to believe the money was proceeds of drug
the seizure was lawful, we affirm the turnover order.
and Procedural History
October 2017, Detective Brian Thorla and his canine partner,
K9 Hogan, were conducting parcel investigations at an
Indianapolis FedEx shipping facility. They had been doing
these investigations together for more than two years, though
each of them had prior experience. Detective Thorla had been
working as a law-enforcement officer since 2004 and as a
controlled-substance-detection K9 handler since 2014. And K9
Hogan had over five years of service in narcotic detection.
had a routine. As parcels were sorted on belts and diverters,
the detective watched for packages with characteristics
common to parcels containing controlled substances or money
involved in drug trafficking. Those characteristics included
shipment to or from a "source" state; use of a
common name, like Smith, Brown, or Johnson; use of a new box
from the shipping company; heavy tape; cash payment for
shipping; priority overnight shipping; and not requiring a
signature upon delivery.
with a suspicious set of features would be removed from the
sorting line and placed on an open platform. K9 Hogan would
then examine each of the selected packages. If the dog
indicated that a package had a narcotic odor, the package
would be taken to another area, where it would be placed with
similarly sized parcels. K9 Hogan would then conduct a second
examination. If he again indicated a narcotic odor on a
package, that parcel would be set aside in a secured
location, and Detective Thorla would seek a warrant to search
pair followed this routine on October 26, 2017. Detective
Thorla spotted a package with a suspicious combination of
characteristics. It had been shipped to the
"source" state of California; it was addressed from
Michael Hodges to Christopher Smith; it was a new FedEx box,
sealed with more tape than necessary; the shipment appeared
to have been ...