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United States v. Hawkinson

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 4, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Clark Henry Hawkinson, Defendant.

          Thomas Hollenhorst, United States Attorney for Plaintiff.

          Michael McDonald, and Katherine Roe, for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the Objection (“Objection”) [Doc. No. 212] of Defendant Clark Henry Hawkinson to Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) dated October 22, 2018 [Doc. No. 209]. In the R&R, Magistrate Judge Bowbeer recommended that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and Seizure (“Defendant's Motion to Suppress”) [Doc. No. 151] be denied. For the reasons set forth below, and after a de novo review, this Court overrules Defendant's Objection, adopts the R&R in its entirety, and denies Defendant's Motion to Suppress.

         I. Background

         In 2016, several law enforcement agencies, including the West Metro Drug Task Force, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, started jointly investigating a large-scale, prison-based, drug-trafficking operation (“DTO”). (Gov't's Resp. to Def.'s Mem. of Law [Doc. No. 201] at Ex. 2.) During the investigation, law enforcement officials consulted jail visitor logs, recorded jail telephone calls, seized contraband, and met with a “vetted confidential reliable informant” (“CRI”). (Id.) The investigation revealed that the DTO smuggled up to 100 pounds of methamphetamine and heroin a month from Mexico to California, and then from California to Minnesota. (Id.)

         The CRI told investigators that one of the primary drug distributors for the DTO was a person nicknamed “El Pescador, ” whom investigators determined was Defendant. (Id.) The CRI said that Defendant was a “lb level” distributor. (Id.) In addition, the CRI explained that members of the DTO delivered methamphetamine to Defendant and collected money in return. (Id. at 3-4.) The CRI told law enforcement officers that as much as seven pounds of methamphetamine was delivered to Defendant in December 2017. (Id. at 4.)

         Law enforcement officers' independent surveillance of Defendant corroborated the CRI's information that Defendant was a drug distributor for the DTO. The CRI's identification of Defendant as a suspected drug trafficker was corroborated through an undercover drug transaction between Hennepin County Deputy Sheriff Siltala and a DTO intermediary who traveled to and from Defendant's house at least five times. (Id.) The CRI's identification of Defendant as a member of the DTO was also corroborated by the search of a suspect's phone, which included a message from a member of the DTO to the suspect giving directions to Defendant's residence. (Id.)

         On January 25, 2018, Deputy Sheriff Siltala applied for a warrant to search Defendant's residence and supplied a supporting affidavit. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Suppress [Doc. No. 194] at 1.) The application was granted the same day by Anoka County District Court Judge Jonathan Jasper. (Id.) The search warrant was executed on January 31, 2018, at 12:23 p.m. (Exhibit 2 [Doc. No. 211].) Both large quantities of methamphetamine and miscellaneous drug trafficking paraphernalia were found at Defendant's resident. (Id.) Subsequently, on February 14, 2018, Defendant was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. (Indictment [Doc. No. 1].)

         Six months later, Defendant moved to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the search and seizure. Although Defendant's original motion sought broad relief, at the hearing on the motion he narrowed his focus to the search warrant executed at his residence on January 31, 2018. (R&R at 2.) In his post-hearing memorandum Defendant argued that there was no probable cause for the search warrant and that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule did not apply. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Suppress at 1.)

         After reviewing Defendant's claims, Magistrate Judge Bowbeer found that Deputy Sheriff Siltala's affidavit established probable cause to believe that narcotics and contraband or incriminating evidence would be found at Defendant's residence. (R&R at 5.) Moreover, Judge Bowbeer concluded that, even if probable cause were lacking, the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies in this case. (Id. at 6.)

         On November 2, 2018, Defendant filed his Objection to the R&R. Defendant continues to argue that there was no probable cause to search his residence and that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule does not apply. (Def.'s Obj. at 1.) Because this Court agrees with the magistrate judge's reasoning in the R&R, this Court overrules Defendant's Objection and adopts the R&R in its entirety.

         II. Discussion

         A. ...


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