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United States of America v. Jesus Navarro-Montes 01

January 27, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge


On October 28, 2010, Defendant Jesus Navarro-Montes ("Navarro-Montes") was arraigned under a third superseding indictment and charged as follows: (1) on January 19, 2008, conspiracy to distribute 100 kilos or more of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846; (2) on September 23, 2007, possession with intent to distribute 445.32 kilos of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); and (3) on January 19, 2008, killing, with malice aforethought, United States Border Patrol Agent L. Aguilar in Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area by striking him with a Hummer vehicle in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1114.

The matter is currently before the Court on Navarro-Montes' Motion to Suppress Statements. On December 6, 2010, the Court held an initial hearing on the motion. On January 11, 2011, the Court held an evidentiary hearing to consider the voluntariness of certain statements made by Navarro-Montes to Mexican authorities. Having considered the submissions of the parties, oral arguments of counsel, and testimony of the witnesses, the Court denies the motion to suppress these statements.


1. Summary

Navarro-Montes moves to suppress statements he made to Mexican authorities on three separate occasions in January 2008 and February 2009. He argues that these statements are inadmissible either because he was not given his Miranda warnings, or he made the statements involuntarily, or both. Navarro-Montes, a non-citizen, claims entitlement to Fifth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution because the United States and Mexico were involved in a "joint venture" to investigate and detain him in relation to this case, thereby extending constitutional protection to him.

In addition to the oral arguments of counsel and their written submissions, the parties had the opportunity during an evidentiary hearing to present witness testimony and exhibits in support of their respective positions concerning the voluntariness of Navarro-Montes' statements. The government called four witnesses and submitted a number of exhibits. Navarro-Montes did not call any witnesses, however, he cross-examined the government's witnesses, submitted exhibits, and testified on his own behalf. A summary of the pertinent portions of each witness' testimony is summarized below.

a) Mario Alberto Diaz-Alcantar

In January 2008, Mario Alberto Diaz-Alcantar held the position of Investigative Prosecutor II with the State Attorney General's Office, State of Sonora, Mexico. Diaz-Alcantar testified on direct examination that on January 22, 2008, he was on duty and presented with an Information by Sonoran police charging Navarro-Montes with bribery. The police brought Navarro-Montes to Diaz-Alcantar's office, at which time he provided Navarro-Montes with the opportunity to make a ministerial declaration, a transcribed and witnessed oral declaration. A public defender was assigned to represent Navarro-Montes and was present during his declaration to the prosecutor. After giving his statement, Navarro-Montes and his attorney read the transcription to make sure it accurately reflected his declaration and then signed it.

Diaz-Alcantar testified that Navarro-Montes was not beaten or otherwise abused or threatened in his office, nor did Navarro-Montes allege that he had been abused or threatened. Navarro-Montes was very calm. The public defender assigned to represent Navarro-Montes never mentioned that Navarro-Montes had complained of beatings or abuse, even though there were opportunities to memorialize such allegations. After his declaration, two doctors examined NavarroMontes and found no evidence of injury. Diaz-Alcantar stated that he decided not to pursue the state bribery charges due to insufficient evidence, and that he was not aware at the time that a warrant had been issued for Navarro-Montes' arrest for federal crimes.

On cross examination, Diaz-Alcantar testified that Navarro-Montes was provided notice of his rights under Mexican law, including the right to declare or decline to declare the facts of which he was accused. According to Diaz-Alcantar, Navarro-Montes was not provided notice of any rights under U.S. law because any statement elicited was pursuant to questioning regarding the Mexican state crime of bribery. Subsequent to being advised of the bribery allegations, Navarro-Montes was given several minutes to confer with his public defender. Navarro-Montes informed Diaz-Alcantar that he had bribed the police not to detain him due to the problems he was having with U.S. officials. Diaz-Alcantar testified that Navarro-Montes' declaration was almost entirely related to the events in the U.S. because they were the antecedent events to the bribery allegations. Diaz-Alcantar reiterated that a medical doctor examined Navarro-Montes after he was detained, although Diaz-Alcantar did not examine Navarro-Montes personally. According to Diaz-Alcantar, after Navarro-Montes left his office on January 22, 2008, he did not have any contact with him again.

b) Jesus Omar Castlo-Ramos

On January 22, 2008, Jesus Omar Castlo-Ramos, a public defender, represented NavarroMontes during his ministerial declaration before the prosecutor regarding the state bribery charges. Castlo-Ramos testified that he reviewed the Information charging Navarro-Montes prior to sitting in on the declaration, and had the opportunity to speak with Navarro-Montes and advise him regarding his right to decline making a declaration. Castlo-Ramos stated that he was present during NavarroMontes' declaration, and reviewed the transcript of the declaration and found it to be accurate.

Castlo-Ramos recalled observing no indications that Navarro-Montes had been physically assaulted, and stated that if he had observed any signs of assault he would made a statement to that effect at the close of the declaration.

On cross examination, Castlo-Ramos admitted that he remembered only a little of what happened on January 22, 2008. On rebuttal, Castlo-Ramos testified that Navarro-Montes never told him that he had been beaten ...

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