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United States v. Reyes-Laguna

May 18, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CESAR REYES-LAGUNA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS STATEMENTS [Doc. No. 20]

On March 2, 2009, Defendant Cesar Reyes-Laguna filed a motion to suppress statements obtained as a result of his arrest. The Government filed a response and opposition to Defendant's motion and an evidentiary hearing was held on April 27, 2009. Having considered the evidence presented at the hearing, the submissions of the parties, and applicable case law, the Court concludes that Defendant's statements were obtained in violation of his Miranda*fn1 rights. Accordingly, Defendant's motion will be GRANTED.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Defendant is charged in a two count indictment with bringing in illegal aliens for financial gain and aiding and abetting in violation of 8 U.S.C. §1324(a)(2)(B)(ii) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 and with bringing in illegal aliens without presentation in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(2)(B)(iii).

On August 29, 2008, at approximately 4:00 a.m., Defendant entered the United States through the San Ysidro, California Port of Entry. Defendant was driving a gold 1980 Volvo sedan. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer M. Valete, determined that the license plate on the vehicle was registered to a Mercedes, not a Volvo. Officer Valete also observed that the interior of the vehicle appeared to have been recently upholstered, and that the back seats looked bulky. Defendant presented Officer Valete with a vehicle registration in his name and stated that the car was his and that he had owned it for several weeks. Officer Valete suspected the vehicle registration was counterfeit because of the license plate discrepancy and the appearance of the inside of the car. Therefore, he referred Defendant to secondary inspection. At secondary, CBP agents found two women hidden in a specially built compartment under the rear seat. Defendant was arrested and his fingerprints were checked in a computer database. The database search revealed that Defendant had two prior arrests for alien smuggling.

After Defendant was arrested, CBP Officer Nicasio and her partner CBP Officer Campuzano interviewed him in the security office. The interview was videotaped and was played during the evidentiary hearing. The video demonstrates that Officer Nicasio started to advise Defendant of his Miranda rights in English. When Defendant indicated that he did not understand, Officer Campuzano asked him if he would prefer to speak in Spanish. He said he did. Officer Nicasio then re-advised Defendant of his Miranda rights in Spanish. (Def. Ex. A, at 4:1-15.)

With respect to the right to appointed counsel, Defendant was advised:

You have the right to speak to an attorney so they can advise you before we ask you any questions, and to have them present with you during the questions. . . . If you do not have the money to employ an attorney, one can be provided for you before we ask you any question if you wish . . . . If you decide to answer our questions now without having an attorney present, you will always have the right to stop answering whenever you like, until you can speak to an attorney. (Def. Ex. A, at 4:23-25; 5:1-6.)

After Defendant indicated that he understood his rights, the following conversation took place:

Nicasio: O.k., so, again, out loud, so do you want to answer the questions, or do you want an attorney?

Defendant: Bu--

Nicasio: Because those are your right, whatever you like.

Defendant: But when will they bring me the attorney?

Campuzano: They're not going to bring the attorney here. You are going to have to wait until they go and see you there where you're going to be. Nicasio: When you go, when we take you where we're going to take you, so when you go to see the, the judge, then they will appoint you an attorney.

Defendant: An attorney?

Nicasio: Mmm-hmm. But that's your right either way.

Defendant: What was I going to say to you, and, and where will I be ...


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