LeeAnn K. Bell, Esq., United States Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.
Manny K. Atwal, Esq., Office of the Federal Defender, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ANN D. MONTGOMERY, District Judge.
This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for a ruling on Nielsen Francis Ove's Objection [Docket No. 32] ("Obj.") to Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel's October 4, 2013 Report and Recommendation [Docket No. 31] ("R&R"). In the R&R, Judge Noel recommends denying Ove's Motion to Suppress Evidence [Docket No. 13]. After a thorough de novo review of the record and for the reasons stated below, Ove's Objection is overruled and Judge Noel's R&R adopted.
Mankato Police Officer Andrew Johnson is a member of the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force. Mot. Hr'g Tr. [Docket No. 22] 5-6. On March 6, 2013, a Blue Earth County probation officer asked Johnson and another agent to accompany him on a probation visit, for the purpose of identifying items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Id. at 7. During the visit, the probationer, who had tested positive for methamphetamine use, told Johnson the methamphetamine was purchased from Defendant Ove within the past 72 hours. Id. at 7-8. The probationer provided the agents with several corroborating details, including: (1) Ove drove a 2002 or 2004 dark green Ford Explorer SUV; (2) the SUV had a sticker of a white hand grenade on the front quarter panel of the driver's side; (3) Ove lived with his girlfriend at a particular trailer park in St. Peter, Minnesota; (4) Ove carried a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol inside his jacket's chest pocket; and (5) Ove had a secret compartment in his SUV where the passenger-side airbag would normally be located. Id. at 8-9.
Johnson was aware of Ove as a suspect methamphetamine dealer from an investigation two years earlier. Id. at 9-10. Since then, Johnson had received information and complaints from both confidential informants and arrestees regarding Ove, described as "a larger scale methamphetamine dealer in our area" by these persons. Id. at 11. Based on the information Johnson received from the probationer, Johnson issued an officer alert. Id . Johnson also retrieved Ove's records, from which he learned Ove's driver's license had expired and that Ove was a felon, prohibiting him from the possession of firearms. Id. at 12.
Very shortly after the alert issued, a police officer from the St. Peter Police Department contacted Johnson. The officer had identified a green SUV matching the alert's description, in the trailer park identified by the probationer. Id. at 12. Johnson and another agent went to the location and conducted surveillance, where they observed a dark green Ford Explorer SUV which seemed to fit the 2002 or 2004 model description. The front driver's side panel bore a sticker of a white hand grenade. While Johnson was conducting surveillance, a male matching Ove's race and build entered the SUV and began driving. Id. at 13-14.
Johnson and his partner followed the SUV, and coordinated with local police to have it pulled over for an investigatory stop. Id. at 14. The local officers approached with guns drawn, and Johnson visually confirmed Ove's identity when Ove exited the vehicle. The officers handcuffed Ove and conducted a search of his person, locating a black semiautomatic pistol in the left breast pocket of his jacket. Id. at 15-16. Johnson and his partner then secured Ove's vehicle. Instead of searching the entire vehicle, the agents focused on the passenger-side airbag area, where they found a hidden compartment. Inside, they found a black velvet drawstring bag which contained bullets, hypodermic needles, and bags of suspected methamphetamine. Id. at 17-18. Thereafter, the agents obtained a warrant to search the remainder of the vehicle. They also went to Ove's trailer, secured the persons inside, and obtained a warrant to search the trailer. Id . 18-20.
On July 23, 2013, the Government charged Ove with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). Indictment [Docket No. 1]. On August 9, 2013, Ove moved to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the searches of his vehicle and home. At the hearing on this motion, the Government elicited testimony from Agent Johnson, and the parties subsequently submitted briefing on the motion [Docket Nos. 27, 30].
A. Standard of Review
In reviewing a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the district court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see also D. Minn. L.R. 72.2(b). A district judge "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in ...