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United States v. Anguiano

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 19, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Rodolfo Anguiano, Jr. 1 and Kelvin Baez, a/k/a “Taliban” 2, Defendants.

          David P. Steinkamp, Assistant United States Attorney, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.

          John J. Leunig, Esq., and Justin J. Duffy, Esq., The Law Office of John J. Leunig, Minneapolis, MN on behalf of Defendant Rodolfo Anguiano, Jr.

          Patrick G. Leach, Esq., Leach Law Office LLC, St. Louis Park, MN on behalf of Defendant Kelvin Baez.




         This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for a ruling on Plaintiff United States of America's (the “Government”) Amended Objection [Docket No. 156] to Magistrate Judge David T. Schultz's October 23, 2017 Report and Recommendation [Docket No. 138] (“R&R”). In the R&R, Judge Schultz recommends granting Defendant Rodolfo Anguiano, Jr.'s (“Anguiano”) Motion for Suppression [Docket No. 67] and granting Defendant Kelvin Baez's (“Baez”) Motion to Suppress [Docket No. 41]; Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions, and Answers [Docket No. 51]; and Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and Seizure [Docket No. 53].[1] The Government objects to the R&R's recommendation that all of the motions be granted. For the reasons set forth below, the Amended Objection is overruled in part and sustained in part.

         II. BACKGROUND[2]

         A. Procedural Issues

         The Government's initial Objection [Docket No. 147] exceeded the word count limit in Local Rule 72.2(c) and did not include a certificate of word count compliance as required in Local Rule 72.2(c)(3). Anguiano and Baez moved to strike the Government's initial Objection for failure to comply with the word count limit. See Anguiano's Mot. Strike [Docket No. 151]; Baez's Mot. Strike [Docket No. 155]. The Motions to Strike also requested dismissal of the Indictment and release from custody. Id. The Court allowed the Government to file an Amended Objection and gave Defendants Anguiano and Baez 14 days to respond. See Order [Docket No. 157]. Accordingly, the Court grants the Motions to Strike to the extent the Motions request that the Government's initial Objection be stricken, and denies the Motions to Strike to the extent the Motions request dismissal of the Indictment and release from custody.

         B. Traffic Stop and Arrest of Anguiano

         On May 5, 2017, at approximately 7:15 p.m., while on routine patrol, Bloomington Police Officer Jacob Gruber (“Officer Gruber”) was parked near the Days Inn in West Bloomington when he observed a red Volkswagen Jetta with California license plates enter the Days Inn parking lot. Hr'g Tr. [Docket Nos. 114, 115] at 33-34, 36-38. Officer Gruber had seen the red Jetta in the Days Inn parking lot about a week earlier. Id. at 38. Officer Gruber regularly patrolled the hotel area near the Days Inn and considered it to be a “high crime” area of drug trafficking, prostitution, and other crimes typically occurring in an area of moderately priced hotel franchises. Id. at 36-37, 93. He routinely checked the registration of the vehicles in the Days Inn parking lot and checked the hotel roster for the names of the people staying there. Id. at 38. On the day he first saw the Jetta, he learned from his routine checks that its registration was expired and that the registered owner, Elizabeth Sanchez, was not listed on the hotel roster. Id.

         When Officer Gruber observed the Jetta on May 5, he began to follow it as it left the Days Inn parking lot. Id. at 41-42. While trailing the Jetta, Officer Gruber performed a vehicle registration check and confirmed that the registration was still expired. Id. at 42. When the car's tires crossed over the lane divider, Officer Gruber activated his squad's lights and stopped the Jetta. Id. at 43-44.

         When Officer Gruber approached the Jetta, the first thing he noticed was an “overwhelming odor of air fresheners.” Id. at 46. He observed in plain view of the car's interior dryer sheets all over the floor in the front and back of the car. Id. Officer Gruber knew from his narcotics training that drug traffickers have used dryer sheets to mask the odor of the drugs to frustrate drug-detecting canines detecting the drugs. Id. at 35, 48.

         Anguiano, the driver, was the sole occupant in the vehicle. Id. at 45. Officer Gruber requested Anguiano's license and proof of insurance and asked if he owned the vehicle. Gov't Ex. 2 (“Video Tr.”) at 2; Hr'g Tr. at 49. Anguiano responded that he just bought the vehicle, had not yet registered it, and did not have the title with him. Video Tr. at 2-3; Hr'g Tr. at 50. He stated that he had purchased the vehicle at an auction. Video Tr. at 22. Anguiano also lacked documentary proof of insurance, but told Officer Gruber that the vehicle was covered under his policy for 30 days. Video Tr. at 5; Hr'g Tr. at 49. When Officer Gruber mentioned the presence of the dryer sheets, Anguiano replied that the car had a leak and smelled like gas. Video Tr. at 11.

         Anguiano told Officer Gruber that he had been in town for three days to attend a cousin's wedding that was taking place on Saturday. He said he had initially been staying at the Days Inn and was now staying at the nearby Embassy Suites on American Boulevard, where he was headed before he was stopped. Video Tr. at 3-4, 6; Hr'g Tr. at 50-51.

         When Officer Gruber told Anguiano that he had seen the Jetta at least a week earlier, Anguiano explained that his cousin had driven the car to Minnesota and that he had flown because he had to work. Video Tr. at 11, 19; Hr'g Tr. at 51-52. Based on his training, Officer Gruber was aware that drug traffickers commonly pay another person drive their “load” car to a location and then fly to the location to retake possession of the car. Hr'g Tr. at 52. When Officer Gruber asked Anguiano how he was getting back, he responded that he was going fly home on Monday and would be selling the car, as he frequently buys and sells cars. Video Tr. at 20, 22-23.

         Officer Gruber requested a criminal history report from dispatch and learned that Anguiano had prior arrests for “alien smuggling, controlled substance, and . . . possession of pills.” Hr'g Tr. at 52-53, 101. When Officer Gruber asked Anguiano if he had ever been “in trouble for narcotics” or “arrested before, ” Anguiano said he had been arrested before but only for diet pills and not for narcotics.[3] Video Tr. at 12. Officer Gruber felt Anguiano was “being dishonest or at least evasive about questions, ” and that he was “lying about certain things or at least what [Officer Gruber] believe[d] to be lies.” Hr'g Tr. at 54-55.

         Based on his suspicion of drug trafficking, Officer Gruber called a K-9 handler and drug-detecting canine to the scene. Id. at 53-54. The handler told Officer Gruber that the canine had shown interest in the undercarriage but did not give a final alert. Id. at 57. Officer Gruber returned to his squad car and spoke with another officer about how to proceed. Video Tr. at 27-28. He decided he would release Anguiano without giving him a ticket. Hr'g Tr. at 58.

         When Officer Gruber returned to Anguiano's car and handed back his license, Anguiano opened his wallet and Officer Gruber saw a Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) badge affixed to the inside flap of the bifold wallet. Id. at 58-61; Gov't Ex. 4. The badge wallet held about a dozen plastic cards that Officer Gruber presumed to be credit cards. Hr'g Tr. at 59. Officer Gruber asked Anguiano to step back out of his car and explain why he had the DEA badge. Video Tr. at 26. Anguiano explained that he had purchased the badge through eBay for Halloween “a long time ago” and now carried it with his credit cards. Id.; Hr'g Tr. at 62; Video Tr. at 26. Using his cell phone, Anguiano showed Officer Gruber websites that sold fake DEA badge wallets. Hr'g Tr. at 107.

         Officer Gruber returned to his squad car and called Sergeant Cory Cardenas (“Sergeant Cardenas”) to discuss the badge in Anguiano's wallet.[4] Id. at 63, 271, 273. In turn, Sergeant Cardenas called Detective Tom Maloney (“Detective Maloney”) to determine whether the badge was real and whether it had been stolen. Id. at 204, 206, 276-77. Detective Maloney reviewed a DEA contact list and determined that Anguiano was not a DEA officer. Id. at 206. He also contacted the DEA's Intelligence Center in El Paso, Texas to ask if Anguiano was a subject of other DEA investigations. Id. at 208-09. Detective Maloney learned that Anguiano was not currently under investigation but had “a prior arrest for alien smuggling and some kind of drug case, ” and had crossed the Mexico/United States border about 20 times in the last “couple” of years. Id. at 209-10. Detective Maloney then called Sergeant Cardenas back and relayed this information. Id. at 210. Through his discussions with Detective Maloney, Sergeant Cardenas became “a hundred percent sure” that the badge was not real. Id. at 275-76.

         Sergeant Cardenas drove to the scene, where he and Officer Gruber arrested Anguiano. Id. at 276. Officer Gruber initially testified that he arrested Anguiano for identity theft but later stated Anguiano was arrested for both identity theft and obstructing legal process. Id. at 63, 115-16. Sergeant Cardenas testified that Anguiano was arrested for obstructing legal process. Id. at 276.

         C. Search of Anguiano's Car

         Following the arrest, Anguiano's car was searched. Id. at 64, 279. The officers found a satchel with an imitation DEA badge and imitation FBI badge, four $1, 000 bundles of cash, and credit cards with names other than Anguiano's. Id. at 64-65. The Jetta interior appeared to have been altered because the dashboard was loose and came apart easily. Id. at 65, 279-80. No drugs or contraband were found in the vehicle. Id. at 65, 116-17. The car was impounded and Anguiano was transported to the Bloomington jail. Id. at 65-66.

         D. Search of Hotel Room

         After the car was towed away, Officer Gruber drove to the nearby Embassy Suites to continue his investigation. Id. at 67, 128-30. The front desk confirmed that Anguiano was registered to room 714. Id. at 68. Officer Gruber, Sergeant Cardenas, and a third officer, Officer Danner, went to the room and knocked on the door. Id. at 68, 129-30. From inside the room, a woman later identified as Defendant Zyaira Marie Gavino (“Gavino”) moved a curtain from an interior window next to the door and looked out at the three uniformed officers. Id. at 69. She then opened the door, and Sergeant Cardenas asked her if they could come inside and speak to her about a “matter.” Id. at 70, 283-84. Gavino opened the door wider, stepped back, and waved her arm to gesture the officers into the room. Id. at 70, 285.

         Immediately inside Room 714 was a living room area that included a pull-out couch and a sink. Id. at 71, 76, 191, 304. A separate bedroom was down a small, open hallway. Id. at 71, 76. A man later identified as Baez was sitting on the couch in the living room. Id. at 71. Gavino told Officer Gruber that they were there visiting a friend at the hotel and had been staying with him a few days. Id. at 75. Gavino stated that she knew the friend only by his nickname. Id.

         When initially scanning the living room, Officer Gruber and Sergeant Cardenas observed a glass methamphetamine pipe with residue in plain view on an end table next to Baez. Id. at 72-73, 286. Officer Gruber also saw a backpack, suitcase, and other luggage in the living room where Baez and Gavino were sitting. Id. at 72. Upon observing the methamphetamine pipe, Sergeant Cardenas left the room to speak with the front desk about what had been found and to ask if the hotel staff wanted to evict Gavino and Baez. Id. at 286-87.

         Officer Gruber testified that he asked for Gavino's consent to search. Id. at 75. She said yes and pointed to a suitcase, backpack, and bags that were hers. Id. Officer Gruber further testified that he then requested and received Gavino's consent to search the room. Id. Sergeant Cardenas was present during the conversation in which Gavino gave consent to search her personal items, but did not hear Officer Gruber ask if he could search elsewhere in the room. Id. at 333. Sergeant Cardenas testified that he may have left the room to go to the front desk at the time Officer Gruber asked for and received permission to search the entire room. Id.

         Officer Gruber searched Gavino's backpack and found a small bag with four .22 round bullets. Id. at 78. The backpack also contained an owner's manual for a Chevy Equinox that matched a set of GM keys Officer Gruber saw in plain view on the living room couch. Id.

         Officer Gruber then began to search the entire suite. Id. at 76-79. The back bedroom contained a large armoire that was locked with a rigid chain lock. Id. at 76-77. The officers also observed in plain view what appeared to be pound packaging in an open-topped garbage can in the back bedroom. Gov't Ex. 5 (“Search Warrant Aff.”) at 3. In the far corner of the bedroom, the officers observed that a cell phone had been propped up to face the armoire. Hr'g Tr. at 77. The cell phone appeared to be monitoring the armoire by streaming a live video image from the phone camera to a Facebook Live website. Id. Officer Gruber asked Baez where narcotics might be if any were in the room, and he testified that Baez responded, “Well, in the armoire, obviously.” Id. at 79. Based on this comment, Officer Gruber requested a K-9 officer to conduct a dog sniff of the room. Id. at 81. The drug dog alerted to the armoire and to a dresser next to it. Id.

         Officer Gruber “popped off” the front panel of a sink cabinet in the back bedroom and found a plastic bag that contained a pillowcase with two large bundles of what he believed to be multiple pounds of methamphetamine. Id. at 79. Upon finding the suspected drugs, the officers decided to freeze the room and obtain a search warrant to search the rest of the room, including the armoire, and the Chevy Equinox. Id. at 80.

         After the search warrant arrived, the officers searched the armoire and found additional methamphetamine and a handgun. Id. at 83-84. They also searched the Chevy Equinox and found methamphetamine, marijuana, and a gun. Id. at 84.

         Gavino and Baez were then arrested and transported to the Bloomington police department, where they were interviewed ...

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