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U.S.A. v. Mayorquin

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

September 20, 2013

U.S.A.
v.
ROSA MARIA MAYORQUIN, Defendant(s).

GREGORY NICOLAYSEN, Attorneys for Defendant.

CRIMINAL MINUTES - GENERAL

CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

Proceedings: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS (filed May 31, 2013) (EVIDENTIARY).

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendant Rosa Mayorquin is charged with (1) conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and (2) possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(viii). On May 31, 2013, defendant filed a motion to suppress narcotics seized during a search of defendant's vehicle that took place on May 8, 2011. Dkt. No. 58. The government filed an opposition on August 29, 2013. On September 16, 2013 and September 20, 2013, the Court held a hearing. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follow.

II. BACKGROUND

The stop and subsequent search at issue in this motion originated with a wiretap of a phone used by defendant's co-defendant Sergio Vargas. On this wiretap, government agents recorded multiple conversations between Vargas and defendant's son, Victor Suarez. On May 5, 2011, this wiretap recorded Vargas telling Suarez that he was "in need of an errand... from Los Angeles... to a place in San Jose." Davila Decl. ¶ 4. Vargas clarified that this errand involved "seven shirts" and that it would be "paid right away there." Id . The government contends that Vargas's use of the phrase "seven shirts" was in fact a coded reference to seven pounds of methamphetamine that Vargas wanted moved from Los Angeles to San Jose.

The following day, on May 6, 2011, the wiretap recorded Suarez telling Vargas that he was "arriving to my mom's place and she is asking why we are doing all this under so much pressure. She's like, Tell him that if he wants, you and I leave tomorrow instead in my truck....'" Id . ¶ 6. As noted above, defendant is Suarez's mother. Later the day of May 6, Suarez again spoke with Vargas, informing him that, "My mother told me she wanted to leave around noontime...." Id . ¶ 8. Suarez further suggested that he could "call and see if my uncle can lend us the office so we can store them there and then as soon as I get there, I'll deliver them." Vargas responded by inquiring, "Your uncle is trustworthy, right?"; Suarez responded, "Yes." Id.

Based on these conversations, government agents subsequently began surveilling the residence of Suarez's uncle, Carlos Maldonado. On May 7, 2011, the wiretap recorded Suarez against calling Vargas: "I'm already on my way over there.... I'll call you once I get there." Vargas responded, "It's six, six little dolls, okay?" Id . ¶ 15. Again, the government interprets the phrase "six little dolls" as code for six packages of methamphetamine. On the night of May 7, LAPD Detective Stephen Winter observed Suarez and defendant arrive at Maldonado's house in a white Dodge Caravan. Suarez and defendant entered the house, and Suarez emerged carrying a weighted back bag, which he placed in the rear of defendant's vehicle. Winter Decl. ¶¶ 3-4. Defendant and Suarez then left Maldonado's residence and began driving north.

At that point, early in the morning of May 8, 2011, the federal drug enforcement agents who were conducting the investigation contacted California Highway Patrol Officer Randy Royal. They requested that he locate the white Dodge Caravan with a certain license plate number. Davila Decl. ¶ 19; Royal Decl. ¶¶ 2. At 1:10 AM on May 8, 2011, Royal then observed defendant's white 2003 Dodge Caravan driving northbound on I-5. Having located a vehicle matching the description, Royal determined that the driver of the vehicle was exceeding the speed limit, and pulled over the driver of the Caravan. Defendant was driving; defendant's son and co-defendant Victor Suarez was riding along as a passanger. Id . ¶¶ 2-4. Royal informed defendant that she was speeding, and wrote her a speeding ticket. Id . ¶ 6. Royal finished the citation, and told defendant to have a nice night.

As defendant was walking back to her car, Royal asked defendant if everything in the vehicle belong to her. Defendant replied affirmatively. Royal then asked defendant if there were any drugs in the vehicle. According to Royal's declaration, "Defendant looked like she was going to cry, and said quickly, no.'" Royal then asked if he could search defendant's vehicle. Id . Defendant replied, "Yes, " and signed a Spanish-language form consenting to the search. Id . ¶¶ 6-7.

Royal then employed a narcotics dog to examine the vehicle. After circling the vehicle, the dog alerted under the right rear bumper of defendant's vehicle. Royal arrested defendant and Suarez, and then moved the vehicle to a nearby parking lot to conduct a more thorough search. While searching defendant's vehicle, Royal dismantled a plastic panel inside the right rear side of the Caravan. Behind the panel, Royal discovered six vacuum wrapped packages of methamphetamine. Id . ¶ 11-12.

III. ANALYSIS

Defendant makes several arguments in support of her motion to suppress the methamphetamine discovered in her vehicle. First, she argues that Royal did not have probable cause to search her vehicle. Second, she argues that she did not give Royal valid consent to search her vehicle. Finally, she argues that even if she gave valid consent, the ...


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