McWILLIAMS, Circuit Judge.
The issue in this case is whether a search of the trunk of an automobile and the seizure therefrom of 25 pounds of marijuana violated the Fourth Amendment. Loucks, the defendant, filed a pretrial motion to suppress the use at trial of the 25 pounds of marijuana taken from the trunk of his automobile. The district court denied the motion. Thereafter, Loucks, pursuant to Fed.R.Crim.P. 11(a)(2), entered a conditional plea of guilty, reserving the right to appeal from the sentence imposed and obtain review of the order of the district court denying his motion to suppress.
On appeal, Loucks contends that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress, and, in support thereof, Loucks argues that although the facts and circumstances justified a warrantless search of the interior of his automobile, they did not justify a warrantless search of the trunk of his vehicle. We do not agree.
While driving his automobile in Wyoming on October 30, 1985, Loucks was stopped for speeding by a Wyoming State Highway patrolman. The officer testified at a preliminary hearing before a magistrate that according to his radar equipment, Loucks was driving at a speed of 73 miles per hour. Immediately after the stopping, Loucks got out of his vehicle and walked towards the officer's patrol car. Loucks was asked by the officer to take a seat in the patrol car while the officer wrote a traffic ticket. It was in this setting that the officer noticed a strong odor of marijuana on Loucks, "reeking" being the word used by the officer. The arresting officer, incidentally, testified that he had extensive experience with marijuana arrests, gained while serving as a patrolman for the Missouri Highway Patrol and as Chief of Police in Gower, Missouri, and, more recently, on the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
As they were seated in the patrol car, the officer asked Loucks if he had been smoking marijuana, and Loucks denied it. The officer asked Loucks to empty his pockets, which the latter did, and the officer then checked Loucks for weapons. The officer next walked to Loucks' car, and opened the door on the driver's side. Leaning into the car, the officer smelled what he thought was still-burning marijuana. He then proceeded to search the interior of the vehicle which yielded a small wooden box containing what appeared to be marijuana, a few marijuana cigarette butts from the car's ashtray and a small brown paper bag which also contained marijuana. The officer then took the keys from the ignition and opened the trunk. Inside the trunk was an orange laundry bag. The officer felt the orange bag, opened it and smelled it. Inside the orange bag was a plastic garbage bag containing marijuana. In the trunk the officer also found a nylon utility bag which contained marijuana. Altogether, the officer found, and seized, approximately 25 pounds of marijuana in the trunk. Based on the chronology above outlined, Loucks was charged with the possession with an intent to distribute approximately 25 pounds of marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).
In denying Loucks' motion to dismiss, the district court stated that "[w]here an officer legitimately stops a car, and has probable cause to believe drugs are concealed in that car, he may conduct a warrantless search of the car and the containers within it that could conceal the object of the search," citing United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798, 102 S.Ct. 2157, 72 L.Ed.2d 572 (1982). We agree.
Loucks concedes that the officer had probable cause to make a warrantless search of the passenger compartment of his vehicle, but argues that there was no such probable cause to search the trunk.
The facts of Ross are somewhat different from those in the instant case, although language used in Ross has present pertinency. Ross does not involve the stopping of an automobile because the operator was driving erratically. Rather, in Ross, the police had information from a reliable informant that Ross was selling narcotics on the street and that the narcotics were kept in the trunk of his automobile. So, in Ross, it was quite apparent that there was probable cause to search the trunk of the Ross vehicle without a warrant. The issue in Ross was whether the officers could thereafter lawfully search, without a warrant, containers found within the vehicle, namely, an opaque paper bag and a leather pouch located in the trunk, the paper bag containing heroin and the leather pouch containing $3,200 in cash. In Ross, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the warrantless search of the paper bag and the leather pouch, holding that where police officers have probable cause to search a lawfully stopped vehicle, they may conduct a warrantless search of every part of the vehicle and its contents, including all containers and packages that might conceal the object of the search. Ross, supra, at 825, 102 S.Ct. at 2173. In so holding, the Supreme Court commented as follows:
As indicated, Loucks does not challenge, as such, the search of the bags located in the trunk of his vehicle. Ross would seem to foreclose any such challenge. Rather, Loucks argues that though the officer had probable cause to search the passenger compartment for marijuana that Loucks was himself personally using, such probable cause did not justify a warrantless search of the trunk which resulted in the seizure of 25 pounds of marijuana which ultimately formed the basis for the complaint charging him with the possession of marijuana with an intent to distribute. We disagree. The distinction which Loucks would make is in our view illogical and unreasonable.
A Supreme Court case with facts quite similar to those of the instant case is Robbins v. California, 453 U.S. 420, 101 S.Ct. 2841, 69 L.Ed.2d 744 (1981), reh'g denied, 453 U.S. 950, 102 S.Ct. 26, 69 L.Ed.2d 1036 (1981). In Robbins, highway patrol officers stopped a station wagon which was being driven in an erratic fashion and, as the car door was being opened, the officers smelled marijuana smoke. The officers then proceeded to make a warrantless search of the vehicle. In the passenger
The "personal use" argument made in the instant case was considered, and rejected, in United States v. Burnett, 791 F.2d 64 (6th Cir.1986). In Burnett, the "focal point" of the defendant's argument was that two ounces of marijuana found in the interior of a vehicle indicated that the defendant was only a "user" of narcotics, as opposed to being a dealer in narcotics, and that accordingly, the officer had probable cause to search only the passenger area of the car, but not the trunk. The Sixth Circuit rejected this argument and stated that, under the rationale of Ross, the search of the trunk was "lawful and justified."
Burnett, supra, at 67.
Automobile search cases are countless, and there is no need to review them here. In our view, on the basis of the authorities above cited, the district court was eminently correct in denying Loucks' motion to suppress.