This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).






State of Minnesota,


Gregory Lee Backlund,


Filed July 3, 2001


Stoneburner, Judge


Sherburne County District Court

File No. K499101


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, James B. Early, Assistant Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and


Walter M. Kaminsky, Sherburne County Attorney, Sherburne County Courthouse, 13880 Highway 10, Elk River, MN 55330 (for respondent)


Kenneth M. Bottema, 1159 University Avenue West, St. Paul, MN 55104 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N




Appellant Gregory Lee Backlund challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress.  Because under the totality of the circumstances the search warrant application established probable cause, we affirm.



On January 26, 1999, at approximately 2:03 p.m., the Elk River Police Department received a telephone call from the Menards store in Elk River.  The caller stated that an adult white male had purchased two gallons of toluene with cash.  At 3:45 p.m., Sherburne County investigator Jeff Baker received another telephone call from a person identifying himself or herself as an employee at the Elk River Menards store.  The caller stated that the same adult white male had returned and purchased two gallons of muriatic acid with cash and that he had left the store in a red Ford pickup truck with license plate number BTH 211.  Toluene and muriatic acid are ingredients used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.  Baker checked with the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles and learned that the vehicle was registered to Gregory Lee Backlund.

Baker went to the address listed on Backlund’s driver’s license.  At about 4:25 p.m., Baker saw a red Ford pickup truck with license plate BTH 211 drive into the garage of this residence and saw an adult white male exit the vehicle and enter the house.  At about 4:49 p.m., Baker saw another vehicle pull into the driveway and leave approximately three minutes later.  Baker stated that in his training and experience, short-term traffic is common at the residences of drug dealers.  The passenger in the vehicle that made the short-term visit was identified and a criminal-history check revealed he had a history of previous narcotics violations.  Baker also checked Backlund’s criminal history and learned that Backlund had previous narcotics convictions in another county.  Based on this information, Baker obtained a search warrant for Backlund’s residence.

At about 9:35 p.m., the police executed the search warrant.  The police found two gallons of muriatic acid, two gallons of toluene, three cans of Red Devil Lye, 34 lithium batteries, 240 60-milligram tablets and 200 30-milligram tablets of pseudoephedrine, $4,000 in cash, scales, and other implements of marijuana trafficking and methamphetamine manufacturing and sales.[1]  Backlund was arrested.

Backlund was charged by amended complaint with two counts of first-degree controlled-substance crime, one count of fourth-degree controlled substance crime, one count of fifth-degree controlled-substance crime, and one count of receiving stolen property.  Backlund moved to suppress the evidence discovered during the search, and the district court denied the motion.  After a trial on stipulated facts pursuant to State v. Lothenbach, 296 N.W.2d 854 (Minn. 1980), Backlund was found guilty of one count of first-degree controlled-substance crime.  The state dismissed the remaining counts.  Backlund appeals the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress.[2]



            Backlund argues that the search-warrant application did not establish probable cause, specifically contending that the informant from Menards was not reliable and that the warrant application shows no nexus between Backlund’s residence and the items purchased at Menards.

            In determining whether a warrant is supported by probable cause, this court accords great deference to the issuing judge’s decision.  State v. Harris, 589 N.W.2d 782, 787 (Minn. 1999).  We review the district court’s determination of probable cause to ensure that there was a substantial basis to conclude probable cause existed.  Id. at 787-88.  “[T]he resolution of doubtful or marginal cases should be ‘largely determined by the preference to be accorded to warrants.’”  State v. McCloskey, 453 N.W.2d 700, 704 (Minn. 1990) (quoting United States v. Ventresca, 380 U.S. 102, 109, 85 S. Ct. 741, 746 (1965)).

            Evidence obtained by a search and seizure that violates a defendant’s constitutional rights is inadmissible.  State v. Mathison, 263 N.W.2d 61, 63 (Minn. 1978).  Probable cause must exist before a search warrant can be issued.  Id.  In determining whether probable cause existed, a court “may consider only the information presented in the affidavit offered in support of the search-warrant application.”  State v. Hochstein, 623 N.W.2d 617, 622 (Minn. App. 2001) (citing State v. Kahn, 555 N.W.2d 15, 18 (Minn. App. 1996)).  The existence of probable cause based on an informant’s tip is determined by the “totality of the circumstances” test:

The task of the issuing [judge] is simply to make a practical, common sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, including the “veracity” and “basis of knowledge” of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.


Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238, 103 S. Ct. 2317, 2332 (1983); see also State v. Albrecht, 465 N.W.2d 107, 109 (Minn. App. 1991) (applying totality of the circumstances test under state constitution).  A court must review the affidavit as a whole, not each component in isolation.  State v. Wiley, 366 N.W.2d 265, 268 (Minn. 1985).

            Backlund argues that the affidavit does not show the veracity of the caller-informant because the police did not identify the caller.  A police officer is justified in assuming a caller is truthful “[w]hen an informant provides sufficient information so that he may be located and held accountable for providing false information.”  Playle v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 439 N.W.2d 747, 748 (Minn. App. 1989).  The officer was justified in assuming the caller was truthful because the caller identified himself or herself as a Menard’s employee and could later be located through that information.  See, e.g., City of Minnetonka v. Shepherd, 420 N.W.2d 887, 890 (Minn. 1988) (stating caller was identified as an attendant at a particular gas station); Playle, 439 N.W.2d at 748 (stating caller was identified as a Burger King employee); see also Harris,589 N.W.2d at 789 (acknowledging that statements from citizen witnesses, as opposed to criminal informants, may be presumed credible). 

            In addition, the information given by the caller was detailed, reliable, and led to police corroboration.  See State v. Ward, 580 N.W.2d 67, 71 (Minn. App. 1998) (finding reliability may be established by corroboration of minor details); cf. Jobe v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 609 N.W.2d 919, 922 (Minn. App. 2000) (stating fact that informant gave his name and location of car was sufficient to allow police to further investigate); State v. Pealer, 488 N.W.2d 3, 5 (Minn. App. 1992) (indicating informant gave specific and articulable facts describing vehicle, giving driver’s name, and placed vehicle at specific location, which gave police a reason to suspect defendant was driving while intoxicated).  The caller relayed personal knowledge that an adult white male purchased two gallons of toluene and later two gallons of muriatic acid with cash and drove away in a red Ford pickup truck with license plate BTH 211.  See, e.g., Playle, 439 N.W.2d at 749 (emphasizing informant based his conclusion that defendant was drunk on personal observations).

            The police corroborated the information given by the caller.  They determined that the vehicle was registered to Backlund and that Backlund had a criminal history of drug trafficking.  See State v. Lieberg, 553 N.W.2d 51, 56-57 (Minn. App. 1986) (concluding that defendant’s criminal history was properly considered as factor in totality of circumstances for finding probable cause).  The police saw the truck return to Backlund’s residence about 40 minutes after the second purchase at Menards, sufficient time for Backlund to drive from Elk River to his home in Princeton.  Then the police witnessed a vehicle make a three-minute visit, common at the residences of drug dealers, and discovered the passenger in that vehicle had previous narcotics convictions.  Under the totality of the circumstances, the search warrant application contained sufficient evidence of the caller’s reliability.

            Backlund argues also that the affidavit in support of the warrant application shows no nexus between Backlund’s residence and the items purchased at Menards.  Elements bearing on the probability that evidence will be found in a particular place “include information linking the crime to the place to be searched and the freshness of the information.”  State v. Souto, 578 N.W.2d 744, 748 (Minn. 1998) (finding that state’s warrant application failed to show that Souto was anything more than a casual user of drugs and contained no timely information that Souto had ever possessed or used drugs at her residence); see, e.g., State v. Bynum, 579 N.W.2d 485, 487 (Minn. App. 1998) (finding that affidavit established a nexus between crime and residence when information showed dealer purchased drugs from appellant, who transported those drugs to the sale location in an Oldsmobile that was registered to him and that was later seen parked overnight in front of a house that was listed as appellant’s residence), review denied (Minn. Aug. 18, 1998). 

The police observed the red pickup truck described by the informant pull into the garage and saw the driver enter the house.  The truck pulled into Backlund’s residence at the approximate time needed to drive from the Elk River Menards store to his home in Princeton.  Shortly thereafter, the police saw a vehicle make a three-minute stop at the residence and relied on their experience that short visits are common at the residences of drug dealers.  Although mere suspicion does not create probable cause, police officers may rely on training and experience to draw inferences and make deductions.  State v. Richardson, 514 N.W.2d 573, 579 (Minn. App. 1994) (citing State v. Skoog, 351 N.W.2d 380, 381 (Minn. App. 1984)).  The search-warrant application establishes a nexus between Backlund’s residence and the purchase of ingredients commonly used in the manufacturing and sale of methamphetamine.

Under the totality of the circumstances, the search-warrant application contained sufficient evidence to support a finding of probable cause.



[1] Lye and pseudoephedrine are additional ingredients in the manufacture of methamphetamine.  Lithium batteries contain muriatic acid.

[2] In his Statement of the Case, Backlund identifies as an issue on appeal whether the district court abused its discretion in imposing an excessive fine.  Because neither Backlund nor the state has briefed the issue, this court will not reach it.  See State v. Butcher, 563 N.W.2d 776, 780 (Minn. App. 1997) (stating issues not briefed on appeal are waived), review denied (Minn. Aug. 5, 1997).