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United States v. Camacho

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United States v. Camacho
Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.svg
CourtUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Full case nameUnited States of America v. Alfonso Camacho
ArguedSeptember 9, 2003
DecidedMay 27, 2004
Court membership
Judge(s) sittingRaymond C. Fisher, Jay Bybee, and James C. Mahan

United States v. Camacho, 368 F. 3d 1182 (9th Cir. 2004), was a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding the use of radioactive scanning equipment to perform customs searches along the United States Mexico Border.[1][2][3]


Alfonso Camacho was a United States citizen attempting to drive across the United States – Mexico Border who was stopped by Customs inspectors. One of the inspectors noticed that Camacho's spare tire felt hard to the touch, and grew suspicious that something was contained inside the tire. Another inspector then used a radioactive density measurer called a Buster to determine that the tire was in fact significantly more dense than would be expected. The inspectors subsequently removed the tire and thoroughly searched Camacho's SUV and found almost 108 pounds of marijuana.


Camacho argued that the search of his vehicle was potentially detrimental to his health, and therefore defined as unreasonable and therefore prevented by the Fourth Amendment. However, the court ruled that the search was not destructive, as it posed no danger to the vehicle and could not harm the occupant. Furthermore, the court noted that the Fourth Amendment only protected against intrusive searches of the person, but not the vehicle, at the border. Thus, even though the use of the Buster constituted an instrusive search, it was reasonable because it was not directed at Camacho himself, but rather towards his vehicle

See also[edit]

  • United States v. Flores-Montano
  • Border search exception to the Fourth Amendment


  1. Thomas K. Clancy, "2008 Fourth Amendment Symposium-The Fourth Amendment at the International Border", 78 Mississipi Law Journal (2008-2009
  2. Yule Kim, Protecting the U.S. Perimeter: Border Searches Under the Fourth Amendment (2010), p. 16
  3. "Investigations and Police Practices: Warrantless Searches and Seizures", 40 Annual Review of Criminal Procedure 44 (2011)

External links[edit]

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