Federal Judge Amul R. Thapar has ruled that 150 pounds of marijuana found by Kentucky state troopers in a car they stopped last fall is inadmissible in a case because the DEA placed a GPS tracker on the suspect’s car without a warrant.
Robert Dale Lee is charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, but without the actual marijuana, prosecutors will have a hard time proving that.
“In this case, the DEA agents had their fishing poles out to catch Lee,” Judge Amul R. Thapar wrote. “Admittedly, the agents did not intend to break the law. But, they installed a GPS device on Lee’s car without a warrant in the hope that something might turn up.”
Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement needed a warrant to put GPS trackers on suspect vehicles, but since this case predated that ruling, it was still up in the air as to what Judge Thapar was going to decide.
People had been telling law enforcement that Robert Dale Lee was transporting marijuana from Chicago to eastern Kentucky. So instead of getting a warrant, the DEA to put a GPS device on his car.
It’s always a good thing when law enforcement is forced to go the extra mile to protect the rights of those who are supposedly innocent until proven guilty.