In an unfortunate turn of events for Gal Vallerius, a motion to suppress the evidence collected by immigration was denied by the U.S. Magistrate Judge on Tuesday. The motion was requested by Vallerius lawyer due to the legality of searching electronic devices without consent while entering the United States.
Gal Vallerius, a French national widely known by his online handle “OxyMonster” was a forum support moderator of the Darknet Market, Dream Market. Was detained for questioning in Atlanta, GA in 2017 while attempting to enter the United States to compete in a beard contest.
While being questioned, US Federal Agents requested that Vallerius unlock his laptop and other electronic devices, for a routine search. According to court documents Vallerius complied with the search and Law Enforcement investigators were able to identify Vallerius as the Dream Market staff member by comparing writing styles of the two and tracing bitcoin transaction history.
Vallerius and his attorneys argued that even with consent, the search of the electronic devices was unwarranted as the federal agents had tricked Vallerius by claiming it was a routine search process. They also argued the obtained evidence violated the Fifth Amendment since Vallerius was not read his Miranda rights.
Both of the arguments in the motion were rejected during Judge Torres denial. Torres ruled that Miranda Rights were not required at the time since Vallerius was only being questioned and had not officially been detained.
The argument that Vallerius was tricked into offering consent to search his devices was denied on the basis that Vallerius had willingly given consent and that Border agents “Possessed independent authority to search electronic devices for evidence of criminal activity” which is in accordance of the Border Search Doctrine. Electronic Device searches are now a common procedure that began in 2016.
Vallerius is currently awaiting his pending trial in a Florida jail on several charges including Narcotics Trafficking. Anthony Natale, the Public Defender of OxyMonster, mentioned on Wednesday that he planned to file an objection and that he had not yet informed his client of Judge Torres decision.