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United States v. Dillard

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

October 8, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIC K. DILLARD, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Defendant Eric Dillard has filed two Motions to Suppress certain evidence. The Government filed a response in opposition to Defendant's motion. An evidentiary hearing was held to determine the admissibility of the evidence. The parties have submitted post-hearing briefs. After consideration of the facts presented at the hearing and the arguments and authority presented by the parties, Dillard's Motion to Suppress [68] is denied.

BACKGROUND

Prior to commencing the evidentiary hearing, the parties stipulated that: (1) following his detention, Dillard was advised of his Miranda rights and waived those rights to speak with law enforcement officers; (2) following his detention, Dillard voluntarily signed a written consent form, allowing law enforcement to perform a search of his place of business that led to the recovery of certain items; (3) the blue Mercury Mountaineer subject to surveillance throughout this case was not registered to Dillard; and (4) a drug-detecting dog alerted law enforcement to the presence of narcotics within the blue Mountaineer. These stipulations left only the issue of whether law enforcement had probable cause to detain Dillard.

The following facts are based upon the testimony of the witnesses examined at the suppression hearing and other evidence submitted by the parties. In 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), along with a task force of various local law enforcement, conducted a large-scale investigation of Michael King, a suspected cocaine trafficker. (Sep. 4, 2014 Tr. 20:19-21:2.) DEA Special Agent Eric Durante was among those assigned to investigate King. ( Id. ) Throughout the investigation, Durante worked with numerous cooperating sources, including an individual named Vincent Howard. ( Id. 21:3-9.)

Howard was familiar with King's trafficking operation because Howard had transported cocaine to Kentucky for sale and brought the proceeds back to King in Chicago. ( Id. 21:24-22:4.) The DEA informed Howard it was aware of his trafficking activities, that he faced a substantial sentence because of them, and that the only prospect of reducing that sentence was through cooperating in the King investigation. ( Id. 61:19-23.) Howard agreed to cooperate in the investigation of King. ( Id. 22:25-23:2.)

Howard was to meet with King to pick up five kilograms of cocaine at the residence of an individual, Claude McKay, at 924 East Hyde Park Boulevard in Chicago, Illinois. ( Id. 25:9-26:6.) Prior to the meeting, the DEA provided Howard with an unmarked vehicle and a combination audio transmitter and recording device, through which Durante was able to hear any conversations in which Howard was involved. ( Id. 27:23-29:4.)

After meeting with Howard, Durante positioned himself within a block of 924 East Hyde Park Boulevard and maintained radio contact with Task Force Officer Dwayne Johnson, who was positioned in front of the residence. ( Id. 30:4-31:15.) Various agents and law enforcement officers maintained surveillance of Howard from the time he left his meeting with Durante until he entered McKay's residence to meet with King. ( Id. 32:3-5.)

After approximately fifteen to twenty minutes inside McKay's residence, Howard exited the building and called Durante on a cellular phone once he reached the undercover vehicle provided for him. ( Id. 32:16-33:9.) Howard explained to Durante that he was driving to a parking garage to complete the cocaine transaction and was being followed by "Eric" in a blue Mercury Mountaineer. ( Id. 40:22-24, 42:2.) Approximately one month prior, Durante showed Howard a photograph, known to Durante to be of Dillard, that Howard identified as "Eric." ( Id. 38:17-39:13.)

Members of the task force maintained surveillance of Howard as he traveled to the parking garage and were able to identify the blue Mountaineer as one of the vehicles that had been identified in the months prior as belonging to King's organization. ( Id. 42:5-9.) Durante was able to observe the license plate of the blue Mountaineer. ( Id. 45:7.) Based on previous information supplied by Howard, Durante knew the blue Mountaineer contained a secret compartment for transporting cocaine. ( Id. 45:20-46:6.) The blue Mountaineer was not registered to Dillard. ( Id. 46:10.)

The vehicles eventually entered the parking garage identified by Howard; Durante remained outside and set up surveillance on the outside of the garage. ( Id. 46:16.) After approximately five minutes, Howard, in the undercover vehicle provided to him, Dillard, in the blue Mountaineer, and a third, unidentified individual in a maroon GMC exited the garage. ( Id. 47:1-5.) Howard again called Durante to explain that, once inside the garage, Dillard removed a duffel bag containing United States currency and exchanged it with the individual driving the maroon GMC for twenty-five kilograms of cocaine, of which Howard took seven. ( Id. 47:17-48:3.) Members of the task force followed Howard back to McKay's residence, but lost sight of Dillard and the maroon GMC. ( Id. 49:11-17.)

After returning to McKay's residence, Howard entered and gave two kilograms of cocaine to McKay. ( Id. 52:1-2.) Howard then met with Durante and turned over a black duffel bag containing five kilograms of cocaine and confirmed that the "Eric" he had referred to on the phone was, in fact, Dillard. ( Id. 52:8-19.)

Later the same evening, Durante sent task force members to Y2K Performance, a business Durante knew was owned by Dillard, in South Holland, Illinois. ( Id. 53:3-8.) When Durante arrived at Y2K Performance, he identified the blue Mountaineer in the parking lot. ( Id. 54:9-12.) Durante knew the Mountaineer as a vehicle associated with King both because Howard previously identified it as such and because the DEA had conducted surveillance of King inside the Mountaineer approximately a month earlier. ( Id. 45:20-26:1.) Task force members informed Durante that they had set up surveillance around Y2K Performance and, when Dillard drove to a nearby gas station in another vehicle, the task force members ...


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