United States District Court, D. Minnesota
M. Hollenhorst, Esq., Assistant United States Attorney,
Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.
M. Paule, Esq., Robert M. Paule, PA, Minneapolis, MN, on
behalf of Defendant Elvia Adilene Ibarra-Sanchez.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge
for a ruling on Defendant Elvia Adilene Ibarra-Sanchez's
(“Ibarra-Sanchez”) Objection [Docket No. 139] to
Magistrate Judge Katherine Menendez's April 4, 2017
Report and Recommendation [Docket No. 135]
(“R&R”). In the R&R, Judge Menendez
recommends denying Ibarra-Sanchez's Motion to Suppress
[Docket No. 49]. After a de novo review of the record, and
for the reasons stated below, Ibarra-Sanchez's Objection
is overruled and Judge Menendez's R&R is adopted.
November 2, 2016, Ibarra-Sanchez and three co-defendants were
charged with conspiring to distribute a mixture and substance
containing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C), and 846. See
generally Compl. The Complaint alleges that undercover
officers conducted multiple controlled narcotics purchases
from Defendant Jeovani Leonardo Huerta-Gonzalez
(“Huerta-Gonzalez”), who lives with
Ibarra-Sanchez in an apartment on Woodbridge Street North in
St. Paul, Minnesota. Id. ¶¶ 4-6.
Ibarra-Sanchez allegedly accompanied Huerta-Gonzalez on the
controlled buys. Id. On November 1, 2016, a
judicially authorized search warrant was executed at the
Woodbridge Street residence, and $5, 910 in cash and a gun
were seized. Id. ¶ 8.
search warrant for the Woodbridge Street apartment is based
on a November 1, 2016 affidavit by Detective Freddy Munoz.
Ex. List [Docket No. 87] at Ex. 1. The affidavit refers to
the Woodbridge Street address as Huerta-Gonzalez's
residence and describes the following facts. In August 2016,
Detective Munoz began conducting surveillance of
Huerta-Gonzalez at the Woodbridge Street apartment.
Throughout the investigation, law enforcement conducted
multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from
Huerta-Gonzalez. During these controlled purchases,
Huerta-Gonzalez was seen leaving the Woodbridge Street
apartment, driving to the deal location, and then returning
to the Woodbridge Street address. On November 1, 2016,
Huerta-Gonzalez was observed leaving the Woodbridge Street
residence, driving to another residence, leaving the
residence a short time later with a white paper bag, and
driving away. Law enforcement followed Huerta-Gonzalez and
eventually stopped the vehicle. A drug detection dog alerted
to the presence of narcotics, and officers found
approximately 5 pounds of methamphetamine in the white paper
bag. After describing these events, Detective Munoz stated in
the affidavit that based on his training, experience, and
knowledge, he expected to find electronic devices such as
mobile phones on the premises and that such devices would
likely contain evidence of drug trafficking activity such as
drug-related texts, emails, and other data. Detective Munoz
also stated that he believed the Woodbridge Street apartment
was being used to facilitate drug trafficking.
December 19, 2016, Ibarra-Sanchez moved to suppress the
evidence seized in the search. She argued that the affidavit
in support of the search warrant failed to provide the
requisite nexus between the alleged illegal activity and the
Woodbridge Street apartment. She also argued that the
affidavit was so lacking in information connecting the
illegal activity to the Woodbridge residence that the
officers could not have relied upon the warrant in good
April 4, 2017, Judge Menendez denied Ibarra-Sanchez's
motion to suppress, finding that the affidavit provided a
substantial basis on which the issuing judge could have
concluded there was probable cause to search the Woodbridge
Street apartment. Judge Menendez further found a sufficient
nexus between Huerta-Gonzalez's observed criminal
activity and the Woodbridge Street residence. Ibarra-Sanchez
objects to the R&R's conclusion that a sufficient
nexus existed between Huerta-Gonzalez's illegal
activities and the Woodbridge Street apartment.
district judge may refer a defendant's motion to suppress
evidence to a magistrate judge for recommendation. Fed. R.
Crim. P. 59(b)(1). The district judge must make an
independent, de novo determination of those portions of the
report and recommendation to which a party objects. Fed. R.
Crim. P. 59(b)(3); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); D. Minn.
objects to the R&R's finding of a sufficient nexus
between the illegal activities of Huerta-Gonzalez and the
Woodbridge Street residence. “A showing of probable
cause requires evidence of a nexus between the contraband and
the place to be searched.” United States v.
Skarda, 845 F.3d 370, 376 (8th Cir. 2016) (quotations
omitted). Probable cause exists where there is a “fair
probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be
found in a particular place given the circumstances set forth
in the affidavit.” United States v. Tellez,
217 F.3d 547, 549 (8th Cir. 2000).
conducting a de novo review, the Court agrees with Judge
Menendez's conclusion that the affidavit established a
sufficient nexus between Huerta-Gonzalez's observed
criminal activity (the controlled buys) and the Woodbridge
Street residence (leaving from and returning to the property
in connection with the controlled buys). The affidavit
described Huerta-Gonzalez's ongoing drug trafficking
activity, presented the Woodbridge Street address as his
home, and explained that in the affiant's experience,
evidence of drug trafficking activity would likely be found
in the home. These facts established a fair probability that
evidence of a crime would be found in the Woodbridge Street
residence. See United States v. Ross, 487 F.3d 1120,
1123 (8th Cir. 2007) (“Although we have not adopted a
per se rule to the effect that probable cause to arrest a
drug trafficker establishes an inference that records,
paraphernalia, and other evidence of drug trafficking exists
at the trafficker's residence, we have found probable
cause to exist in cases in which officers have stated that in
their experience such an inference is appropriate and in
which a supporting affidavit also described a defendant's
continuous course of drug ...