This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Elio Naranjo Infante,
Filed January 21, 2003
Redwood County District Court
File No. K901106
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Amy Woodworth, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Michelle Dietrich, Redwood County Attorney, Courthouse, Third & South Jefferson, Redwood Falls, MN 56283 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence Hammerling, Deputy State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.
Elio Infante appeals from his conviction for two counts of first-degree controlled substance crime, alleging that the district court erred in refusing to suppress evidence discovered after police officers, acting on an informant’s tip, made an investigatory stop of the automobile he was driving. Because the informant’s tip provided a specific and articulable basis for the stop, we affirm.
An appellate court reviewing the legality of a search and seizure will not reverse the district court’s findings unless clearly erroneous. State v. Munson, 594 N.W.2d 128, 135 (Minn. 1999). The appellate court reviews de novo the district court’s determination of reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Id.
A police officer may make a limited investigative stop of a vehicle when able to “‘point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.’” State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000) (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968)). The threshold for such a stop is low, less than probable cause; the stop must simply be based on more than “mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity.” State v. Wagner, 637 N.W.2d 330, 335 (Minn. App. 2001). A police officer need not rely only on personal observations; an investigative stop may be based on an informant’s tip, if there are sufficient indices of reliability. In re Welfare of G.M., 560 N.W.2d 687, 691 (Minn. 1997).
Reliability of an informant’s tip is established by examining the informant’s credibility and the source of the information, in light of the totality of the circumstances. Id.; State v. Cook, 610 N.W.2d 664, 667 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. July 25, 2000). An informant’s credibility can be established by showing a proven record of reliability, a basis for the informant’s knowledge, and self-verifying details that tend to show that the information is based on more than casual rumor. Cook, 610 N.W.2d at 668. A prediction of future behavior, rather than a recitation of details that merely show present observation is a stronger indication of reliability. Id.Reliability can also be established by independent corroboration of the information by the police officers receiving the informant’s tip. Munson, 594 N.W.2d at 136.
The informant here stated that appellant and a man using the name “Luis” would be transporting about three kilos of cocaine to the Willmar area and would be driving two cars, one a blue Oldsmobile, for which he provided a Minnesota license plate number, and the other a white Honda with a temporary registration. The two cars would be traveling in tandem. The informant further stated that the men would have women traveling with them to give the appearance of a family. The informant provided physical descriptions of appellant and “Luis.”
Although the confidential informant was unknown to the arresting officers who received the information from a special agent in Texas, the Texas agent vouched for the informant by stating that he had provided reliable information in the past that had resulted in multiple arrests and seizures of large quantities of controlled substances.
Investigating officers in Minnesota attempted to corroborate as many details as possible. They discovered that the registered owner of the Oldsmobile, Jorge Exposito, used the name “Luis” as an alias. They confirmed that appellant and Exposito had Minnesota licenses, making it more probable that they would indeed head toward Minnesota. They found that the license descriptions corresponded roughly to the descriptions provided by the informant. While not dispositive, they also received information from a local special agent who described appellant as a known cocaine dealer. The informant’s tip further tended to predict future behavior; as predicted, the two vehicles, traveling in tandem, appeared in the specified area of southern Minnesota in the correct time frame.
This information provided police with more than a whim, caprice, or idle curiosity to conduct an investigative stop of the vehicle. While perhaps insufficient to establish probable cause for arrest, this information was sufficient to support an investigatory stop. Here, police officers searched the vehicle only after further corroborating the informant’s tip and obtaining a search warrant. The district court therefore did not err in refusing to suppress the evidence.