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United States v. Chaparro

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 5, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHNNY CHAPARRO and JOHNNY MENDEZ, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN Z. LEE, District Judge.

Defendants Johnny Chaparro and his son, Johnny Mendez, are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute large quantities of cocaine and heroin. Mendez also is charged with a separate firearms offense. The indictment was a culmination of an extensive investigation by the Chicago Police Department ("CPD"), the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), and the U.S. Attorney's Office that focused on members of the Spanish Cobra street gang. The investigation spanned several months and included numerous wire taps and near-constant surveillance.

On November 30, 2012, after a rather complicated sequence of events, law enforcement officers entered Mendez's residence without a warrant, secured the premises, arrested Mendez and Chaparro, and searched the house, whereupon they found nearly three kilograms of heroin, 60 grams of cocaine, more than $200, 000.00 in cash, and a loaded firearm. Believing that these actions violated their constitutional rights, Chaparro and Mendez have filed motions to suppress the items discovered in Mendez's house, and Mendez separately seeks to suppress certain statements that he made to the officers at that time. After considering the parties' submissions and the testimony provided during the two-day evidentiary hearing, the Court denies the motions to suppress [doc. nos. 164, 165, 166].

Factual Background

We begin with a review of the government's investigation into the activities of Chaparro and Mendez prior to the date of the events in question.

1. The Events of September 2 and 3, 2012

On September 2 and 3, 2012, Chaparro had a number of telephone conversations with Jose Arguijo ("Arguijo"), during which Chaparro arranged to purchase ten kilograms of cocaine from Arguijo. Compl. II, Lukens Aff. ("Compl. II") ¶¶ 19-23.[1] These calls were intercepted by law enforcement officers.[2] Law enforcement officers also intercepted phone calls between Chaparro and Paul Jenkins ("Jenkins"), one of Chaparro's customers, during which Jenkins agreed to purchase three kilograms of cocaine from Chaparro. Id.

On September 3, 2012, surveillance officers observed Arguijo arrive at Chaparro's house, which is located at 3754 N. Oketo, Chicago, Illinois. Arguijo was carrying a black suitcase, and he and Chaparro entered the residence. Id. ¶¶ 33-49. Officers also observed Jenkins and Lakisha White ("White") enter Chaparro's house. Jenkins was carrying a brown paper bag thought to contain cash, and White was carrying a purse. Id. Jenkins and White left shortly thereafter without the brown paper bag. Id. Law enforcement officers later stopped Jenkins and White and seized three kilograms of cocaine from their vehicle. Id. ¶¶ 50-52.

Once Jenkins realized that the cocaine had been taken from his car, he called Chaparro to inform him that police officers had seized the cocaine. Id. ¶¶ 51-52. Officers then overheard a phone call between Chaparro and Mendez, during which Chaparro stated "I'm sweating here" and "[s]omething happened." Id. ¶ 53. Chaparro also asked Mendez for the alarm code to his house, which was located at 3717 N. Olcott Avenue, two blocks from Chaparro's house. Mendez complied. Id. ¶ 54. Surveillance officers next observed Chaparro leave his residence with a plastic shopping bag containing brick-shaped objects. He then proceeded to Mendez's residence and entered the house carrying the same bag. Chaparro then was observed leaving the Mendez house without the plastic shopping bag. Id. ¶ 55. Based on the foregoing facts, law enforcement officers believed that Chaparro had transported a significant quantity of cocaine from his house to Mendez's house, where it was stored.

2. The Events of September 19, 2012

On September 19, 2012, law enforcement officers intercepted phone conversations between Mendez and co-defendant Joel Melendez ("Melendez"). Id. ¶¶ 65-66, 68-70. During those conversations, Mendez arranged to sell 225 grams of heroin to Melendez. Id. Officers also intercepted phone conversations between Mendez and an unidentified woman, later identified as Jamie Rosado, who lived with Mendez at his house. Id. ¶ 67; TP5 #3393. At the time of the conversations, Rosado was at the Mendez residence, and Mendez asked her to weigh, package, and give the heroin to Melendez once he arrived at the house. Id. Shortly thereafter, surveillance officers saw Melendez enter the Mendez residence carrying a black backpack. He emerged four minutes later, then drove away. Compl. II ¶¶ 72, 74. Based on these facts, law enforcement officers believed that heroin was stored at Mendez's house.

3. The Events of November 9, 23, and 24, 2012

On November 9, 2012, law enforcement officers intercepted another call between Chaparro and Mendez. TP7 #4088. Chaparro asked Mendez to "open the back, " which the officers understood as directing Mendez to open the door to the detached garage on his property so that a drug courier could deposit a shipment of drugs. Id. Shortly thereafter, surveillance officers observed Lucio Cuevas ("Cuevas"), a suspected drug courier for another one of Chaparro's cocaine suppliers, Antonio Valencia-Pantoja ("Valencia"), drive a green Hyundai with Chaparro as a passenger into Mendez's garage. Hr'g Tr. 56, 80, 92. The garage door closed, then reopened approximately fifteen minutes later, and Cuevas and Chaparro drove away together. Id. 57. Based on their observations of this pattern of conduct, the officers believed that a shipment of narcotics had been unloaded in Mendez's garage, which they believed would be brought into the Mendez residence for storage and safekeeping. Id.

Furthermore, at 5:22 p.m. on November 23, 2012, Chaparro had a telephone conversation with another one of his customers, Troy Wilson ("Wilson"). Id. 57-62. During the conversation, Wilson told Chaparro that "the guy is on his way." Id. 59. Minutes later, at 5:40 p.m., Chaparro called Mendez and asked Mendez to let him into Mendez's garage. TP12 #138. Officers observed Arguijo drive a black Acura with Chaparro as a passenger into Mendez's garage. Hr'g Tr. 16, 61. Arguijo and Chaparro exited the vehicle before the garage door closed. Id. Seven minutes later, the garage door opened, and Arguijo and Chaparro drove away. Id. Based upon their visual observations and the intercepted calls, officers believed that Arguijo had driven Chaparro to the Mendez house in order to deliver some narcotics and pick up some narcotics to bring back to Wilson. Id. 62. Later that day at 9:00 p.m., Wilson told Chaparro on the telephone that "it's all cooked, " which officers took to mean that Wilson had cooked up the cocaine into crack cocaine. TP12 #149; Hr'g Tr. 63.

The next day, November 24, 2012, at 2:10 p.m., Wilson told Chaparro that he wanted to buy more cocaine the "same way from yesterday." To the officers, this meant that Wilson wanted to purchase the same amount of cocaine from Chaparro that he had purchased the day before. TP12 #161; Hr'g Tr. 64. A minute later, Chaparro called Mendez to tell him that he was coming over to the house. The officers understood this to mean that Chaparro was going to pick up narcotics from the Mendez house for the impending transaction. TP12 #162; Hr'g Tr. 64-65.

4. The Events of November 26, 2012

On November 26, 2012 at 12:03 p.m., law enforcement officers intercepted yet another call between Chaparro and Mendez. TP7 #5500; Hr'g Tr. 67. Based upon the conversation between the two, the officers believed that Chaparro had an impending shipment of narcotics coming and needed to use Mendez's house to store the narcotics upon its arrival. Id. Less than ten minutes later, during another intercepted call, Arguijo told Chaparro that the shipment would be two kilos less than what Chaparro had anticipated. TP12 #0000; Hr'g Tr. 69. Two hours later, at 2:06 p.m., officers overheard Mendez asking Chaparro why the delivery to his house was delayed. TP 7 #5501; Hr'g Tr. 70.

At around the same time, officers who were conducting surveillance in the area around Chaparro's residence saw Arguijo driving around in the same Acura they had observed on September 2, 2012. Hr'g Tr. 72. Law enforcement officers approached Arguijo in an undercover vehicle with flashing lights and asked him to step out of the vehicle. Id. 73. After he complied, one officer jumped into Arguijo's vehicle and drove away, while the other officer jumped back into the covert vehicle and left the area. Id. The officers discovered several kilograms of cocaine in the Acura, and Arguijo subsequently was arrested. Id.

5. The Events of November 29, 2012, Prior to the Entry

On November 29, 2012, at approximately 1:00 p.m., law enforcement officers intercepted a conversation between Chaparro and Valencia during which they agreed to meet to discuss a narcotics transaction. Compl. II ¶ 87; Compl. I, Domico Aff. ¶ 7; TP12 #338; Hr'g Tr. 78. A few hours later, at 4:56 p.m., Valencia called Chaparro, who told Valencia to meet him in a parking lot at 2820 N. Cicero Ave. Chicago, Illinois. Compl. II ¶ 88. At 5:34 p.m., officers observed Chaparro and Valencia sitting in a vehicle together in a parking lot near that address. Id. ¶ 89.

The officers intercepted another call the next day, November 30, at 9:58 a.m. Id. ¶ 90. At that time, Chaparro and Valencia discussed a deal involving two kilograms of cocaine that would take place at 11:00 a.m. Id. At 10:38 a.m., officers observed Chaparro drive a gold Mazda from his residence to the Mendez residence. Id. During another intercepted phone call at 10:42 a.m., Chaparro informed Valencia that the exchange would occur in a manner that was the "same as ...


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