United States District Court, D. Minnesota
LeeAnn Bell, Assistant United States Attorney, for Plaintiff.
Gary Wolf and Holly Frame for Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
FRANKLIN L. NOEL, Magistrate Judge.
THIS MATTER came before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge on June 9, 2015 on Defendant Juana Reyes-Cordova's motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a search and seizure (ECF No. 45). The matter was referred to the undersigned for a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.1. At the hearing, the Government entered one exhibit into evidence. For the reasons that follow, the Court recommends that Defendant's motion be DENIED.
A. Procedural history
On July 9, 2014, Defendant Juana Reyes-Cordova was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C), and 846. Indictment, ECF No. 1. Two other co-Defendants were also indicted.
Reyes-Cordova now seeks to suppress evidence that was obtained pursuant to a warrant that authorized the search of a residence located at 8xxx Crest Road in Bloomington, MN (the "Crest Road residence"). Mot. to Suppress, ECF No. 45. According to Reyes-Cordova, the search and seizure lacked probable cause "because there was not a sufficient nexus between evidence seized in other locations and Defendant's residence on Crest Road." Id. ¶ 4. Additionally, Reyes-Cordova argues that the good faith exception to the warrant requirement does not apply because the issuing magistrate "wholly abandoned his judicial role" and the affidavit in support of the warrant application was so lacking of probable cause that it was not objectively reasonable for an officer to rely on it. Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Suppress 5-6, ECF No. 46. The Government opposes the motion, arguing that probable cause supported the issuance of the warrant and/or the good-faith exception to the warrant requirement nevertheless applies. See generally Gov.'s Response to Def.'s Pretrial Motions, ECF No. 58.
B. Facts outlined in the search warrant affidavit
On February 20, 2015, Bloomington Police Officer N. Melser applied for a warrant to search the Crest Road residence. See Gov. Ex. 1. Officer Melser has been a police officer for over twelve years, and his current assignment is investigating narcotics violations.
Officer Melser's affidavit outlined the investigation of co-Defendant Abraham Feliciano Lorenzo. According to Officer Melser, a Detective Heinzmann obtained information in January 2015 from a confidential informant ("CI") that Lorenzo was an active multi-pound methamphetamine dealer in the twin cities. Lorenzo was known to reside in the Bloomington/Richfield area and drive a silver Ford Expedition. Surveillance of Lorenzo showed that he consistently parked his Ford Expedition at the Crest Road residence on several consecutive nights, and he would enter and exit the residence using a key to gain access.
Detective Heinzmann additionally learned through CI information and surveillance that Lorenzo rented an apartment located in Richfield, MN on a month-to-month basis. However, additional surveillance showed that Lorenzo's primary residence was nevertheless the Crest Road residence. On February 10, 2015, Detective Heinzmann brought a certified drug-sniffing canine to Lorenzo's Richfield apartment. The canine positively alerted to the presence of narcotics after he sniffed the airspace immediately outside of the apartment's door.
Through Officer Melser's training and experience, he knew that drug dealers and traffickers often keep their narcotics separate from their personal residences in order to protect themselves from law enforcement and robberies. Officer Melser also averred that drug dealers and traffickers frequently keep their drug proceeds in their personal residences, away from the location where their narcotics are stored.
On February 11, 2015, law enforcement set up surveillance on the Crest Road residence and Lorenzo's silver Ford Expedition. Detective Heinzmann observed Lorenzo drive from the Crest Road residence to a trailer park in Ramsey, a place that Detective Heinzmann had witnessed Lorenzo go to on several prior occasions. In the past, Lorenzo would stay at the trailer park for approximately 5-15 minutes before leaving to go back to the Crest Road residence. On this particular occasion, Lorenzo was observed climbing into the back seat of his vehicle, removing an unknown item from the vehicle, and then concealing it. Thereafter, Lorenzo walked into a trailer. Five minutes later, he left the trailer and got back into his vehicle. Law enforcement continued surveillance on Lorenzo as he drove back to Bloomington. Prior to reaching his destination, however, officers stopped Lorenzo's vehicle and conducted a search of the vehicle after receiving Lorenzo's consent. On his person was $5, 000-$7, 000 in cash, wrapped in rubber bands. When questioned about where he was coming from, Lorenzo lied about where he had been. Based on Officer Melser's training and familiarity with Lorenzo's daily pattern, ...