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The People of the State v. Javier Contreras

December 15, 2011


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 09-CF-2641 Honorable George J. Bakalis, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman

JUSTICE BOWMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Jorgensen and Justice Zenoff concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 The State appeals from a ruling suppressing certain evidence against defendant, Javier Contreras. The suppression was the result of a ruling that Chicago police officers had stopped and then arrested defendant in Will County in relation to an offense that took place in Du Page County, when the officers lacked authority to act extraterritorially. The State contends that, under section 107-4(a-3)(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/107-4(a-3)(2) (West 2008)), the officers' second-hand awareness of the recent commission of a felony in which they had reasonable suspicion that defendant participated gave them authority to stop defendant. We hold that section 107-4(a-3)(2) requires first-hand awareness, which the officers did not have.

¶ 2 The State further argues that, even if the extraterritorial stop and arrest were improper, the court erred in suppressing the evidence. However, it concedes that binding supreme court precedent requires suppression for such violations, and it admits that it makes the argument solely to preserve it. We agree that binding precedent holds "that the exclusionary rule is applicable where the police effectuate an extraterritorial arrest without appropriate statutory authority." People v. Carrera, 203

Ill. 2d 1, 11 (2002). We therefore affirm the suppression.


¶ 4 Defendant was charged with delivery of 900 or more grams of cocaine (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(D) (West 2008)) and controlled substance trafficking of the same 900 or more grams of cocaine (720 ILCS 570/401.1(a) (West 2008)).

¶ 5 Defendant filed four suppression motions. Only the fourth is at issue here, but the parties stipulated that the evidence educed for the first three would also be used for the fourth. In the first, defendant moved to suppress a confession based on alleged flaws under the rule in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). In the second, he moved to suppress evidence (including $4,000 in cash) that was the product of his stop and the ensuing search, arguing that the stop had been without sufficient basis. In the third, he moved to quash his arrest and suppress all evidence resulting from it, again arguing that the police had lacked sufficient basis to stop defendant. The court held one evidentiary hearing on all three motions.

¶ 6 The principal witness at the hearing was Officer Brian Luce of the Chicago police. He testified that he and the Chicago police narcotics group that he was working with had identified one Mario Arellano as a person probably engaged in "smurfing" for a large-scale Chicago narcotics operation. ("Smurfing"-which, in this sense, is also known as "structuring"-is a way to evade having financial institutions file currency transaction reports or suspicious activity reports. A transaction, which, if made in one step, would trigger a report, is structured into a number of smaller transactions designed to avoid suspicion. See Black's Law Dictionary 1423 (8th ed. 2004). Luce and his team observed Arellano making many visits to currency exchanges.)

¶ 7 The group began surveillance of Arellano on September 28, 2009. The surveillance identified vehicles and addresses that group members concluded were associated with the narcotics operation. The vehicles included a BMW, a gray pickup, and Arellano's van. The addresses were a house at 359 Sweet Gum Street in Bolingbrook, a house at 1114 Janet Street in Darien (at which the BMW and the pickup were registered), and a house at 7701 Clarendon Hills Road in Willowbrook (which was Arellano's residence).

¶ 8 At the time of defendant's arrest, surveillance of Arellano associate Eduardo Torres had resulted in "recovery of over 4,000 grams of cocaine." This was on October 13, 2009, and resulted in the arrest of another suspect. Luce and his group were not aware of defendant until October 21, 2009.

¶ 9 On that day, the movement of the suspects appeared to the surveillance team to focus on the property at 1114 Janet Street. Luce described this property as a residence on a lot with a high fence and a gate across the driveway. The BMW arrived on the premises and then left. A minivan with forged registration stopped at the property and then went to 359 Sweet Gum Street. The minivan driver employed countersurveillance driving patterns. The BMW returned to 1114 Janet Street. The officers then saw that the tractor portion of a semi-trailer rig-which we will refer to as a truck-was parked behind the house. The surveillance saw somebody go from the truck into the house. Eventually, Arellano's van and the BMW both were driven away. Shortly thereafter, the truck also left. Luce and his colleagues believed that the truck was the likely conveyance for a large-scale narcotics shipment, so Luce and another officer, Luis Garza, followed it.

¶ 10 While Garza and Luce were following the truck, other officers, led by Officer Morovic, followed the BMW to 7701 Clarendon Hills Road, where they saw it pulling into the garage. (The house at 7701 Clarendon Hills Road was a two- or three-minute drive from 1114 Janet Street in Darien.) Somewhat later, the officers at 7701 Clarendon Hills Road saw Arellano exiting the house carrying a plastic bag with two "squared-off objects" in it, which the officers believed were two packages of cocaine in kilogram-sized bricks. Morovic announced himself to Arellano as a police officer and Arellano threw down the bag. The officers recovered it; the contents were as expected and a field test was positive for cocaine. Morovic used a secure cell-based communications channel to tell other team members that Arellano had been carrying cocaine.

ΒΆ 11 Meanwhile, Luce and Garza followed the truck to a Bolingbrook truck stop. Defendant was the driver. At the truck stop, defendant backed the truck up to a trailer. He and Jose Contreras (elsewhere identified as defendant's son) went to "the rear," then got back up into the truck's cab. At that point, Luce had already heard Morovic's account of the stop of Arellano; Luce then learned that a search of Arellano had found some cocaine in Arellano's pocket. Garza and Luce had separate vehicles, which they pulled up alongside the truck such that it could not be driven away. Luce, with his badge on display, got up onto the step to the truck cab and asked defendant to step out. Defendant did so, but Luce saw that he reached toward the rear of the cab before doing so. When ...

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