United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SUPPRESS STATEMENTS AND
GRANTING MOTION IN LIMINE AS TO PRE-MIRANDA STATEMENTS. [ECF
NOS. 20, 30, 34.]
GONZALO P. CURIEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
24, 2019, Defendant Antonio Velasco-Esparza filed a motion to
suppress post-Miranda statements taken by officers
following his arrest at the Otay-Mesa border. ECF No. 20. On
May 31, 2019, the Government filed a response. ECF No. 21.
The Court conducted an evidentiary hearing on August 16,
2019. ECF Nos. 26, 29. Following the hearing, on September 6,
2019, Mr. Velasco-Esparza filed a supplemental motion to
suppress statements made prior to the administration of
Miranda warnings. ECF No. 30. On September 20, 2019,
the Government filed a response. ECF No. 31. The Court then
held an evidentiary hearing on the motions to suppress all of
Velasco's statements on October 4, 2019. ECF Nos. 33, 35.
After the hearing, the Government confirmed that it did not
intend to offer Defendant's post-Miranda
statements in their case-in-chief, and the Court found that
all of Defendant's statements taken by the officers were
the prosecution has agreed not to offer any of
Defendants' statement made during, after or while, he
received Miranda warnings, the remaining question is
whether Defendant's post-arrest, pre-Miranda
statements are admissible under the booking questions
exception. See Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 496 U.S. 582
(1990). Most recently, on November 8, 2019, the Government
filed a motion in limine requesting, among other things,
permission to admit Defendant's pre-Miranda
statements at trial. ECF No. 34 at 5. For the following
reasons, the Court finds that these statements are
admissible, and DENIES Defendant's
motions to suppress and GRANTS the
Government's motion in limine.
Factual and Procedural Background
February 11, 2019, at approximately 10:55 a.m., Antonio
Velasco-Esparza (“Defendant”) applied for
admission to the United States at the Otay Mesa Port of
Entry. Defendant drove alone to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
While approaching the primary inspection area, a Customs and
Border Protection (“CBP”) dog alerted to
Defendant's vehicle. A CBP Officer inspected the vehicle.
During the inspection, another officer asked Defendant if the
vehicle was his and if everything in it belonged to him.
Defendant responded yes to both questions. He then told the
officer that he was going home to San Diego. Defendant was
arrested, and the vehicle was taken to secondary inspection.
secondary inspection area, Defendant's vehicle was
scanned using the Z-Portal machine. After the vehicle was
scanned, a third CBP officer identified
“anomalies” in the vehicle's gas tank. A
fourth CBP officer physically inspected the vehicle as a CBP
contractor removed the gas tank. The gas tank was found to
contain 25.74 kilograms of methamphetamine.
The Interrogation Pre-Miranda
approximately 3:00 p.m., Defendant was taken to a room at the
Otay Mesa Port of Entry which had been converted from an old
cell and contained a table, a bench, and a couple of chairs.
(ECF No. 29, August 16, 2019 Hearing (“Aug.
Hrg.”) at 10.) Homeland Security Investigations Special
Agents Mendoza and Salcedo joined Defendant there and
explained that they were going to “go over some
biographical information.” (ECF No. 20-1, Ex. A,
Interrogation Transcript (“Int. Tr.”) at 2.)
Agents Mendoza and Salcedo asked Defendant his name, date of
birth, social security number, and address. (ECF No. 20-1,
Int. Tr. at 1-2.) Among Defendant's responses, Defendant
stated he had “barely moved out . . . to San
Diego” and “honestly live[d] in San Jose.”
(ECF No. 20-1, Int. Tr. at 2.)
then informed the Agents that he “wan[ted] to talk to
[his] lawyer.” (ECF No. 20-1, Int. Tr. at 3.) Agent
Mendoza ignored the request, repeating his question,
“Okay. Um, well what's your address in San
Jose?” (ECF No. 20-1, Int. Tr. at 3.) Mendoza continued
to ask Defendant various questions from “ICE Form 73, a
personal history report, ” (ECF No. 29, Aug. Hrg. at
7), including his place of birth, e-mail, weight, height, eye
color, scars/tattoos, and employment. (ECF No. 20-1, Int. Tr.
Mendoza thereafter turned to inquire about Defendant's
family. Mendoza asked for Defendant's parents' names,
phone numbers, and addresses. (ECF No. 20-1, Int. Tr. at
5-7.) Mendoza clarified to Defendant that the questions were
“just for biographical purposes.” (ECF No. 20-1,
Int. Tr. at 5.) As Defendant responded to Mendoza's
questions, he provided some incriminating answers not
directly responsive to Mendoza's questioning. In response
to a question about his father's address, Defendant
offered that his parents “have nothing to do, like,
with this stuff, Bro, trust me, ” and that he was
“the only stupid here (sic).” (ECF No. 20-1, Int.
Tr. at 6.)
next asked for Defendant's marital status and, upon
learning he had a girlfriend and two children, inquired of
Defendant's girlfriend's name, date of birth, phone
number, and address as well as the children's names,
ages, and primary residence (mother or father). (ECF No.
20-1, Int. Tr. at 5-7.) Defendant expressed some hesitation,
asking do “[y]ou need those names?” (ECF No.
20-1, Int. Tr. at 7.) Defendant repeated, “You need,
like the names, like, is there something, like, background or
something?”, to which Agent Mendoza responded,
“it's not something bad, it's just, I'm
just trying to get the information, background information on
you.” (ECF No. 20-1, Int. Tr. at 8.) Otherwise,
Defendant answered Mendoza's questions.
point, Agent Mendoza asked Defendant about any alcohol and
drug use. Specifically, Agent Mendoza asked Defendant how
often and recently he drank alcohol, used drugs, or smoked.
(ECF No. 20-1, Int. Tr. at 9-10.) Mendoza also asked
Defendant how much money he had on him, as well as whether he
had any medical conditions or took prescription medicine.
(ECF No. 20-1, Int. Tr. at 10.)
Questioning During and After Miranda
the agents completed the background questioning, Agent
Mendoza read Defendant his rights pursuant to
Miranda. (ECF No. 20-1, Int. Tr. at 11.) Defendant
orally acknowledged that he understood each right, (ECF No.
20-1, Int. Tr. at 11), and signed a Miranda waiver
form. (ECF No. 20-1, Ex. B.) Agent Mendoza subsequently asked
Defendant several times if he waived his Miranda
rights would he wish to speak with the Agents until Defendant
eventually agreed. (ECF No. ...