United States District Court, S.D. California
WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.
The matters before the Court are: 1) the motion to suppress evidence (ECF No. 113) and 2) the motion to suppress post-arrest statements (ECF No. 139) filed by Defendant Eden Alicanedo Aguilasocho.
Defendant Eden Alicanedo Aguilasocho is charged with eight other co-defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846.
In November of 2012, the agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) were investigating the drug trafficking activities of a Mexican based drug trafficking organization allegedly led by Jesus Alberto Robles Martinez. During the course of the investigation, the FBI applied for and received an order to intercept communications over a cellular phone used by Baez Orozco. Based on intercepts of Orozco and other members of the drug trafficking organization, agents became aware that Orozco and others were coordinating the distribution of controlled substances to co-conspirators traveling from the State of Washington.
On December 13, 2012, agents intercepted a number of calls on Orozco's line with co-defendant Julio Cesar Corrales Ochoa which led agents to believe that the participants in the phone call were negotiating the terms of a drug deal and that the drugs were being transferred by car in Santa Ana, California. In an effort to locate the transfer, agents initiated surveillance in Santa Ana. Using an electronic tracking device on Ochoa's cellular phone, agents located and identified a vehicle believed to be the load vehicle, as a green 2005 Chevrolet Malibu. Based upon phone intercepts, agents believed that the Chevrolet Malibu had traveled from the State of Washington for the purpose of retrieving and transporting controlled substances. The vehicle stayed in Santa Ana and state law enforcement monitored the vehicle.
On December 20, 2012, federal agents were notified that the Chevrolet Malibu was traveling northbound on California State Route 99. Federal agents contacted the California Highway Patrol for assistance in the surveillance of the Chevrolet Malibu. Federal agents informed the California Highway Patrol that the Chevrolet Malibu was likely transporting drugs. Federal agents informed California Highway Patrol that they would like the vehicle stopped if California Highway Patrol had independent probable cause to stop the vehicle. California Highway Patrol Officer Paxson spotted the vehicle and followed it for a short period. At approximately 7:50 a.m., based upon an observed vehicle code violation (CV21703) for following too closely, the patrol officer conducted a traffic enforcement stop. The patrol officer testified that he observed the vehicle traveling at 60 miles an hour; that the required distance for following a vehicle at sixty miles an hour was approximately 303 feet; and that the vehicle was following the car in front of it at a distance of approximately 15 feet.
Defendant Aguilasocho was driving the 2005 Chevrolet Malibu. Co-defendant Baez Rivera was the right front passenger. Co-defendant Ochoa was a rear seat passenger. Defendant Aguilasocho immediately exited the vehicle with his Mexican identification card or international driver's license, the vehicle registration, and proof of insurance in his hand. The patrol officer asked Defendant Aguilasocho some routine questions in Spanish, including, where are you coming from? and where do you live? Defendant told the patrol officer that he had been in the United States for two days but produced a border crossing permit which indicated that he crossed from Mexico into the United States five days prior to the stop.
The patrol officer decided not to issue a traffic citation to the Defendant and to issue a verbal warning about following too closely when driving a vehicle. As Defendant turned to walk away, the patrol officer asked if he could ask Defendant a question. Defendant turned back toward the patrol officer and responded in the affirmative. The patrol officer asked Defendant if he had firearms, money, or drugs in the vehicle. Defendant answered no. The patrol officer asked the Defendant if he would consent to a search of the vehicle. Defendant consented. The patrol officer received oral and written consent from all occupants of the vehicle prior to the search. After searching, the officers located methamphetamine and heroin located in the trunk hidden within a pair of shoes and in the sidewalls of the trunk.
Defendant was arrested at the scene and booked into the Fresno jail. At the Fresno jail, Defendant was interviewed by a task force agent with the Fresno police department. Prior to the interview, Defendant was informed of his Miranda rights in the Spanish language, and indicated that he understood his rights. Defendant was asked and answered questions in the Spanish language. Defendant was cited and released by jail officials without input from federal authorities.
On January 4, 2014, Defendant Aguilasocho was arrested as he attempted to enter the United States at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Defendant gave a second post-Miranda interview.
RULING OF THE COURT
1) Motion to Suppress Evidence (ECF No. 113)
Defendant contends that patrol officer did not have an objective basis to stop his vehicle. Even if the alleged traffic stop was justified, Defendant asserts that the detention was impermissibly extended before the officer searched the vehicle for contraband and located the drugs. Defendant contends that ...