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United States v. Del-Rio

June 16, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CARLOS MENDOZA DEL-RIO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge

ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant Carlos Mendoza Del-Rio's ("Mendoza") Motion to Suppress Evidence [#14]. First, Mendoza moves to suppress his fingerprints taken on both November 16, 2008, at the Henry County Jail, and on December 3, 2008, at the ICE detention facility in Chicago, Illinois. Second, Mendoza moves to suppress his statement made on December 3, 2008, at the detention facility in Chicago, Illinois. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Suppress both sets of fingerprints is DENIED and the Motion to Suppress his statements is GRANTED.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Mendoza was indicted on December 16, 2008, on one count of unlawful re-entry after deportation, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a). One December 18, 2008, he was arraigned. On March 20, 2009, Mendoza filed a Motion to Suppress [#8]. Mendoza sought to suppress all items of physical evidence seized from defendant by Illinois State Trooper Strauss ("Trooper Strauss") during the November 18, 2008, traffic stop, as well as all statements made by Mendoza to Trooper Strauss because the traffic stop was made without probable cause. On April 1, 2009, the Court granted this Motion to Suppress [#8], holding that Trooper Strauss did not have probable cause to stop the car on a charge of following too closely. The Court held a supplemental hearing on June 3, 2009. At this hearing, the Court denied Mendoza's Motion to Suppress with respect to fingerprints collected on November 16, 2008, and December 3, 2008, and granted Mendoza's Motion to Suppress with respect to statements made on December 3, 2008. This order follows.

BACKGROUND

The material facts at issue are largely undisputed.

Mendoza is charged in this case with unlawful re-entry into the United States after having been deported from the United States after previous having been convicted of an aggravated felony, in violation of 8 U.S.C. §§ 1326(a) and (b)(2). On November 16, 2008, Trooper Strauss initiated a traffic stop against Mendoza for the offense of "following too closely." After the traffic stop, Mendoza presented his valid Mexican driver's license, which Trooper Strauss used to run a computerized records check on Mendoza. The records check revealed that the Defendant was a previously deported felon and directed law enforcement to contact the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"). ICE subsequently confirmed that Mendoza was a previously deported felon whose current presence in the country was unlawful. Trooper Strauss was advised that ICE intended to issue an Immigration Detainer. A photograph of Mendoza was e-mailed to Trooper Strauss' squad car for further identity confirmation. After confirming that the image in the photograph matched Mendoza, Trooper Strauss arrested and transported Mendoza to the Henry County Jail where he was fingerprinted.

On November 18, 2008, Mendoza was transported to the Dodge County Wisconsin Jail by ICE Agent Shevela ("Shevela"). On December 3, 2008, Mendoza was transported to the Chicago Detention Removal Operations ("DRO") in Chicago, Illinois for removal processing. At the DRO unit, ICE Agent Douglas Standerfer ("Standerfer") read Mendoza his Miranda rights, questioned him, took a sworn statement, fingerprinted him, and served him with a form I-871 Notice of Intent/Decision to Reinstate Prior Order. On December 16, 2008, Mendoza was indicted for the offense of illegal re-entry of a previously deported alien in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a). On December 18, 2008, Mendoza was arraigned on the Indictment and ordered detained.

DISCUSSION

Mendoza was arrested without probable cause and without a warrant. He was detained at Henry County Jail, was fingerprinted, and was later transferred to a Chicago DRO unit. Thereafter, while in custody, he was given the warnings prescribed by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) and was again fingerprinted, was questioned, and made inculpatory statements.

Mendoza asks that the Court suppress all evidence on the grounds that the Fourth Amendment's exclusionaryrule should bar the Government in this case from using any evidence at trial obtained by its agents following Mendoza's illegal stop and seizure. In response, the Government argues that the evidence should not be suppressed because evidence of identity, like fingerprints, cannot be suppressed even if they come after an unlawful traffic stop. Furthermore, the Government argues that Mendoza's statement should not be suppressed because it was sufficiently attenuated from the illegal arrest so as to be admissible.

I. The Court Finds that Fingerprints are Admitted Because They were Part of the Administrative Process

The Court finds that the fingerprint evidence taken on November 16, 2008, at the Henry County Jail and the fingerprints derived from Defendant on December 3, 2008, at the ICE detention facility in Chicago, Illinois are admissible as they were taken for administrative purposes, and not in furtherance of a criminal investigation.

The court in Olivares-Rangel held that when police officers use an illegal arrest as an investigatory device in a criminal case "for the purpose of obtaining fingerprints without a warrant or probable cause" then the fingerprints are inadmissible under the exclusionary rule as a "fruit of illegal detention." When fingerprints are "administratively taken... for the purpose of simply ascertaining... the identity" or immigration status of the person arrested, they are "sufficiently unrelated to the unlawful arrest that they are not suppressible." U.S. v. Olivares-Rangel, 458 F.3d, 1104, 1112-1116 (10th Cir. 2006). In his motion and argument, Mendoza fails to adequately persuade that either set of fingerprints was taken in an investigatory fashion, other than to assert "clearly, all such evidence was obtained as a result of the government agents' ...


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