Finding Cash In a Package Delivered by a Private Shipping Company
In In re U.S. Currency in the Amount of $ 26,980.00, 193 Ariz. 427, 430, P11, 973 P.2d 1184, 1187 (App. 1998), a private shipping company delivered a package addressed to an employee of the University of Arizona's Sociology Department. 193 Ariz. at 428, P2, 973 P.2d at 1185.
The employee had called the Sociology Department to say she was expecting a package.
Before she arrived to retrieve it, however, an unidentified person called and indicated he would come to pick up the package. Id.
Having grown suspicious, the person keeping watch over the package opened it and found $ 26,980 in cash. Id. at P 3.
Police officers who were summoned attempted to contact the package's sender, but were unsuccessful because the name on the shipping label was fictitious. Id.
Officers then contacted the employee to whom the package was addressed. Id.
At first, she denied knowing anything about the package or the sender; a month later, however, the employee made a claim for the package. Id.
After the State filed an action for forfeiture, the superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the package's recipient, finding "the currency, considered in conjunction with the nature of packaging, the incorrect sender's telephone number and the locale of both the sender and the recipient, can not sic sustain the long leap from reasonable suspicion to a finding of probable cause." Id. at 428-29, P 4, 973 P.2d at 1185-86.
The court of appeals reversed, holding that the superior court improperly evaluated probable cause based solely on evidence available to officers when they initially seized the money and did not give due weight to the totality of the circumstances existing at the time of the hearing, including that the package contained a substantial amount of cash and was packaged elaborately and deceptively, the package's origin and destination cities were known to law enforcement as drug proceeds exportation and importation cities, the suspicious phone call by the individual seeking to retrieve the package, the fact that the shipping label contained a fictitious name, address, and phone number for the sender, and that the recipient (at first) denied knowledge of the package and sender. Id. at 430-31, PP 8-14, 973 P.2d at 1187-88.