United States District Court, D. Minnesota
P. Steinkamp, Assistant United States Attorney, Minneapolis,
MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.
D. Nyvold, Esq., Fridley, MN on behalf of Defendant Rodolfo
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge
on remand from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The issue
on remand is whether the police would have sought a search
warrant for Defendant Rodolfo Anguiano Jr.'s
(“Anguiano”) hotel room and a car in the hotel
parking lot if an earlier unlawful search by the police had
not occurred. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
finds the police would have sought a search warrant.
Friday May 5, 2017, Bloomington Police Officer Jacob Gruber
(“Officer Gruber”) was patrolling a high crime
area of the city when he saw a red Volkswagen Jetta with
California license plates arrive at the Days Inn motel and
leave ten minutes later. Hr'g Tr. [Docket Nos. 114, 115]
at 34, 36-38, 41-42. Officer Gruber had seen the Jetta at the
Days Inn the week before, and had learned from his routine
checks that the vehicle's registration was expired and
the registered owner, Elizabeth Sanchez, was not listed on
the hotel roster. Id. at 38. When Officer Gruber
observed the car on May 5, he again performed a vehicle
registration check and confirmed the registration was still
expired. Id. at 42. He followed the Jetta as it left
the Days Inn parking lot and executed a traffic stop after
seeing the car's tires cross over the lane divider.
Id. at 42-43.
approaching the open driver's side window of the Jetta,
Officer Gruber was struck by an “overwhelming”
smell of air freshener coming from the car and saw a large
number of dryer sheets spread over both the front and back
floor. Id. at 46-47. Officer Gruber knew from his
narcotics training that drug traffickers use dryer sheets to
mask the odor of drugs to confuse drug-detecting dogs.
Id. at 47-48. Anguiano, the car's sole occupant,
told Officer Gruber the car had a leak and smelled like gas.
drivers license was from California, which Officer Gruber
knew to be a drug source state. Id. at 49, 54.
Anguiano did not have proof of insurance or a title for the
Jetta. Id. at 49-50. He told Officer Gruber he
recently bought the vehicle at an auction and would be
selling it in Minnesota and flying back to California on
Monday. Anguiano also told Officer Gruber he had been in town
for three days to attend his cousin's wedding that was
taking place on Saturday. Id. at 50. He said he had
initially been staying at the Days Inn but was now staying at
the nearby Embassy Suites on American Boulevard. Id.
at 50-51. When Officer Gruber told Anguiano he had seen the
Jetta a week earlier, Anguiano explained that his cousin had
driven the car to Minnesota and he had flown to Minnesota
because he had to work. Id. at 51-52. Officer Gruber
knew from his training that drug traffickers commonly pay
another person to drive their “load” car to a
location and then fly to the location to retake possession of
the car. Id. at 52.
Gruber learned through dispatch that Anguiano had prior
arrests for alien smuggling, controlled substance, and
possession of pills. Id. at 52-53. He asked Anguiano
if he had ever been arrested. Id. at 53. Anguiano
initially responded that he had not been in trouble for drugs
before, but then said he had been arrested for an offense
involving diet pills. Id. at 53, 102. Anguiano's
nervousness visibly increased as Officer Gruber's
questions focused more on drug activity. Id. at 54.
Officer Gruber concluded Anguiano was lying to him.
Id. at 54-55.
declined to consent to a search of the Jetta, and a
drug-detecting canine was called. Id. at 54. The
canine showed interest in the car's undercarriage but did
not positively alert to the presence of narcotics.
Id. at 57. Officer Gruber decided to release
Anguiano without giving him a ticket. Id. at 57-58.
Officer Gruber returned Anguiano's license to him,
Anguiano opened his wallet and Officer Gruber then saw what
appeared to be a Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”)
badge affixed to the inside flap of the wallet. Id.
at 58-61. The wallet also held about a dozen plastic cards
that Officer Gruber presumed to be credit cards. Id.
at 59. Officer Gruber called his supervisor, Sergeant Cory
Cardenas (“Sergeant Cardenas”) to discuss what he
had seen. Id. at 63, 271, 273. Sergeant Cardenas
contacted Officer Tom Maloney (“Officer
Maloney”), a DEA task force officer with the
Bloomington Police Department, to determine whether the DEA
badge was genuine. Id. at 204, 206. Officer Maloney
confirmed Anguiano was not a DEA agent. Id. at
206-07. Officer Maloney also told Sergeant Cardenas that
information from the DEA's Intelligence Center in El
Paso, Texas showed Anguiano had been arrested previously for
alien smuggling and “some kind of drug case, ”
and had traveled to or from Mexico approximately 20 times in
the past couple of years. Id. at 208-10. Sergeant
Cardenas then drove to the scene, where he and Officer Gruber
arrested Anguiano for identity theft and obstructing legal
process. Id. at 63, 115-16, 276.
Anguiano was arrested, the officers performed an inventory
search of his car and 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, 279. The interior of the Jetta
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,
Gruber and Sergeant Cardenas then drove to the Embassy Suites
to further investigate their suspicions that Anguiano was
engaged in drug trafficking. Id. at 131, 180-81.
Sergeant Cardenas has testified that although the officers
had no solid evidence to charge Anguiano with a drug related
crime at this point, they remained suspicious because
Anguiano had given inconsistent stories about how and why he
had come Minnesota and had lied about his criminal history.
Id. at 281, 338. As a result, they decided to do a
“knock and talk” at Anguiano's hotel room to
possibly develop probable cause through a consensual
encounter with the person answering the door. Id. ...