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Arrested for a drug-related offense during Operation Mountain Shadow?

On September 10, 2013, there was a drug bust that resulted in 65 arrests in Ramona and Poway. The operation called "Operation Mountain Shadow" was the result of a year-long operation that consisted of "buy-walk" operations, where undercover officers purchase drugs from suspected dealers. The items seized during the arrest included:

In addition, over 76 firearms were seized and $230,000 in cash. The street value of the drugs was listed at 2.1 million. This evidence appears extremely damaging; however, there are a few things to consider.

General Warrants are unconstitutional. Therefore, even though search warrants were executed, it is important to remember that search warrants must describe the place to be searched and the type of items expected to be found with sufficient particularity – or the items seized may be inadmissible in court.

The Plain View Doctrine is not applicable. When officers have a legitimate reason for being in an area (e.g., house), anything obviously incriminating can be seized under the Plain View Doctrine. For example, officers have a search warrant to search a home for drugs. When they enter the house legally, they see illegal drugs on the coffee table. Those items, since they are obviously incriminating, could be seized under the Plain View Doctrine.

The Plain View Doctrine does not, however, make a defective search warrant valid. If the search warrant does not describe the place to be searched and the items to be seized with sufficient particularity – the Plain View Doctrine will not apply because law enforcement did not have a constitutional basis to view the items in plain view. Therefore, even though search warrants were allegedly used in these operations, it does not necessarily indicate the automatic admissibility of the items found.

If you have been arrested from Operation Mountain Shadow, then please don't hesitate to contact my firm, Kern Law, APC. As a San Diego drug offense attorney, I can provide you with sound legal guidance and defend your rights.