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United States v. Higareda

June 14, 2007

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
YAHAIRA VANESSA HIGAREDA AND ADAM RAMIREZ, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayes, Judge

ORDER

The matters before the Court are: 1) the Motion to suppress statements (#21) filed by Defendant Yahaira Vanessa Higareda, 2) the Motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to searches (#28) filed by Defendant Yahaira Vanessa Higareda, and 3) the Motion filed by Defendant Adam Rameriz for Joinder (#30) in Motion to suppress statements and evidence filed by co-defendant Higareda.

FACTS

On February 15, 2007 police officers from the City of Chula Vista responded to a citizen call regarding suspected drug activity at a residence at 653 Seavale Street, Apartment 6A, Chula Vista, California. Police Officer Colin Evans arrived at the apartment along Police Officer Juan Vasquez and a trainee officer. Police Officer Vasquez had been at Apartment 6A on at least three prior occasions to investigate reports of domestic violence and knew that the leaseholder of the apartment was a woman named Veronica.

Officer Evans knocked on the front door. Defendant Rameriz opened the door. Officer Evans asked Defendant Rameriz if he lived there. Defendant Rameriz responded no. Officer Evans asked Defendant Rameriz who lived there. Defendant Rameriz responded I don't know. Officer Evans entered the apartment. Officer Evans testified that the living room was crowded with Hispanic males. Officer Vasquez spoke with the individuals in the living room and Officer Evans turned his attention to the people in the kitchen area who spoke English. Officer Evans called the United States Border for assistance and took five individuals who indicated they were United States citizens or had legal documents to reside in the United States outside the apartment.

United States Border Patrol Agents Rojas and Alvarez responded to the apartment. Agents Rojas and Alvarez questioned the five individuals who had been taken outside the apartment, including Defendant Rameriz and Defendant Higareda. Agent Rojas entered the apartment and interviewed the individuals inside who all admitted to being nationals of Mexico with no documents that would allow them to enter and remain in the United States legally.

Defendant Higareda and Defendant Rameriz made statements outside the apartment and later at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station. Higareda stated that she lived at the apartment with her friend Veronica. Rameriz stated that Higareda lived at the apartment and that he opened the door for the officers. Defendant Higareda and Defendant Rameriz are charged with three counts of bringing an alien to the United States for financial gain in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(2)(B)(ii) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Counts 1, 2, and 3) and three counts of harboring aliens in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) and (v)(II).

CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

Defendant Higareda contends that all evidence obtained as a direct result of the search of 653 Seavale Street, Apartment 6A must be suppressed because the warrantless entry and search of the apartment violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Defendant Higareda contends that the warrantless entry and search of the apartment falls within no exception to the warrant requirement. Defendant Rameriz joins in the motion to suppress the evidence.

The Government contends that Defendant Rameriz gave consent to Officer Evans to enter the apartment and that Defendant Rameriz had actual or apparent authority to consent to the entry and search. The Government contends that Defendant Rameriz could have declined to let the officers enter or deferred to Defendant Higareda. In the alternative, the Government contends that Defendant Rameriz has no standing to challenge the entry and search.

ANALYSIS

Standing

The Government contends that Defendant Rameriz does not have standing to contest the entry and search of the apartment. The Government contends the evidence in this case establishes that the Defendant Rameriz was an invited guest with no reasonable expectation of privacy in the premises.

Defendant Rameriz contends that the Government is not entitled to argue that the warrantless entry into the apartment was permissible because he had common authority over the apartment and consented to the entry and, in the alternative, argue that Defendant Rameriz does not have standing to contest the warrantless entry into the premises. Defendant Rameriz contends that the Government cannot use the same facts to claim the lawfulness of the entry and that Defendant Rameriz has no standing to contest the lawfulness of the entry and search. Defendant Rameriz contends that he has standing to contest the warrantless entry and search because "he de facto spent the night there doing drugs and hanging out with his friends with the permission of a ...


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