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Case Basics
Docket No. 
United States
James Karo, et al.
(on behalf of the petitioner)
(on behalf of the respondents)
Facts of the Case 

Defendants James Karo, Richard Horton, and William Harley ordered fifty gallons of ether from a government informant, to be used to extract cocaine from clothes imported into the United States. Carl Muehlenweg, the informant and owner of the ether, gave consent to the police to install a tracking device into one of the cans containing the ether before delivery to the defendants.


Does the installation of a tracking device into a container, with the permission of the original owner, constitute a seizure within the meaning of the 4th Amendment when the container is delivered to a buyer having no knowledge of the tracking device?

Decision: 6 votes for United States, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

No. The Court found that although the cans of ether may have contained an unknown and unwanted object, no meaningful interference with the defendants' interest in their possessions occurred, as the tracking device was installed before the defendants obtained the ether. This case was an expansion of the holding announced in United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276 (1983). (Abstract by Blaine Schmidt.)

Cite this Page
UNITED STATES v. KARO. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 July 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1983/1983_83_850>.
UNITED STATES v. KARO, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1983/1983_83_850 (last visited July 26, 2015).
"UNITED STATES v. KARO," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1983/1983_83_850.