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United States of America v. Robert Cota

October 9, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROBERT COTA, JR. (10)
DEFENDANT.



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

ORDER

The matter before the Court is the motion to suppress wiretap evidence, or in the alternative, to request an evidentiary hearing filed by the Defendant Robert Cota, Jr. (ECF No. 290).

BACKGROUND FACTS

On September 15, 2011, the federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging twenty four defendants, including Cota, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The indictment alleged that the defendants "knowingly and intentionally conspired together and with each other and with other persons known and unknown to the grand jury to distribute 50 grams and more, to wit: approximately 2.87 kilograms (6.3 pounds) of methamphetamine (actual), a Schedule II Controlled Substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a) (1) and 846." (ECF No. 1 at 2).

The investigation in this case began in September 2010 targeting subjects involved in smuggling large amounts of methamphetamine into the United States from Mexico. During the course of the investigation, the Government sought and received authorization to conduct electronic surveillance on a number of telephones used by the defendants and alleged co-conspirators. The initial application for an order authorizing the interception of wire communications was presented to the district judge in February 2011. Defendant Cota was intercepted between June 7, 2011 and September 25, 2011 pursuant to subsequent wiretap orders.

On June 6, 2011, a wiretap application was made by the Assistant United States Attorney to the Honorable Janis Sammartino, United States District Court Judge to intercept communications on three phone lines including TT#14 used by Defendant Garcia. Defendant Cota was not named in the June 6, 2011 affidavit as a target subject but was subsequently intercepted over TT#14.

On July 7, 2011, an order was signed by the Honorable Thomas Whelan, United States District Court Judge to intercept communications on phone TT#14 used by Defendant Garcia and phone TT#17 used by Defendant Cota.

On July 13, 2011, an order was signed by the Honorable Janis Sammartino, United States District Court Judge to intercept communications on phone TT#18 used by Defendant Julie Peterson.

On August 2, 2011, an order was signed by the Honorable Janis Sammartino, United States District Court Judge on a number of phone lines, including phone TT#17 used by Defendant Cota.

On August 30, 2011, an order was signed by the Honorable Janis Sammartino, United States District Court Judge to intercept communications on a number of phone lines, including TT#29 used by Defendant Cota.

The application for the wiretap orders at issue were supported by the Affidavit of Special Agent Jeffrey Grimming of the United States Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

Defendant contends that the electronic interceptions were unlawful on the grounds that 1) the applications for wiretap of the targeted phones lacked necessity, and 2) there is no evidence that agents properly minimized the interceptions. The Government contends that each affidavit in support of the wiretap applications established necessity providing specific facts that detailed the progression of the investigation as a whole, as well as the success and limitations of traditional methods used during the ...


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