agents told him that he needed to come with them, handcuffed him, led him off the
plane, put him into the back seat of a police car, drove him to a police station,
searched him and removed his wallet, cuffed him to a chair, and read him his
rights. However, counsel conceded to the court that if Farley was “under arrest,”
then “there’s inventory policies that allow for the search of items.” The district
court found that Farley had been arrested when the agents detained him on the
plane, and it denied Farley’s motion to suppress the contents of the briefcase.
Farley does not address the district court’s determination that he was legally
arrested, so he has abandoned any argument that he was not. See United States v.
Ardley, 242 F.3d 989, 990 (11th Cir. 2001). Instead, he argues that the search was
not a proper inventory search because the agents should have sealed the briefcase
in his presence rather than opening it to itemize its contents. This argument has no
merit. Inventory searches of an arrestee’s personal property are a “well-defined
exception” to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. Colorado v. Bertine,
479 U.S. 367, 371, 107 S.Ct. 738, 741 (1987). When police take custody of a
In any event, whether an arrest has occurred depends on the particular facts of the
detention, and there is no requirement that a detainee be told in “formal words” that he is under
arrest. United States v. Ashcroft, 607 F.2d 1167, 1170 (5th Cir. 1979). No one disputes that
Farley was not free to leave throughout the relevant time.
It is not clear from the district court’s ruling whether it denied the motion to suppress
the result of the briefcase search on the ground that it was an inventory search or a search
incident to arrest, and the government argues both grounds on appeal. We will affirm a district
court’s evidentiary ruling if it was correct on any ground. United States v. Cardenas, 895 F.2d
1338, 1345 (11th Cir. 1990). Because the inventory search ground is dispositive, we need not