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United States v. Quintana

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

October 27, 2016



          AMY J. ST. EVE, United States District Court Judge:

         Defendant Fernando Quintana (“Defendant”) has moved to suppress all evidence, and fruits obtained therefrom, resulting from the warrantless detention and search of his person, belongings, and vehicle on September 10, 2015, as well as from the search of his residence later that day, on the grounds that the government obtained such evidence in violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures under the United States Constitution. (R.35). For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Defendant's motion to suppress with respect to his arrest and the search of his vehicle on September 10, 2015. The Court denies as moot Defendant's motion to suppress with respect to the search of his residence, given the government's representation that it does not intend to introduce any evidence resulting from said search. (R.36, Response Br. at 15).


         On October 8, 2015, a grand jury returned a one-count Indictment (the “Indictment”) against Defendant (aka “Carlos”). (R.8). The Indictment charged Defendant with knowingly and intentionally possessing with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, namely, a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a Schedule I Narcotic Drug Controlled Substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). (Id.).


         Defendant asks the Court to suppress the physical evidence-namely, a plastic bag containing five brick-shaped packages containing approximately 6.34 kilograms of heroin-that the government obtained from his vehicle on September 10, 2015, on the basis that the government-in arresting and searching Defendant without a warrant, and simultaneously searching his vehicle without a warrant-violated his Fourth Amendment rights. (R.35, Opening Br. at ¶¶ 1-4). In addition, Defendant asks the Court to suppress the “incriminating responses” that he allegedly provided during the course of his arrest and transportation to a law enforcement facility, on the grounds that the predicate arrest was unconstitutional. (Id. ¶ 5).

         I. Legal Standard

         “The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures.” United States v. Richards, 719 F.3d 746, 754 (7th Cir. 2013); see also U.S. Const. amend. IV. “The jurisprudence of the Supreme Court makes clear that the primary bulwark against such conduct is the procurement of a warrant from a neutral and detached magistrate.” United States v. Whitaker, 546 F.3d 902, 906 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Groh v. Ramirez, 540 U.S. 551, 575, 124 S.Ct. 1284, 157 L.Ed.2d 1068 (2004)). Accordingly, “[a] warrantless search is per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment subject to a few well-established exceptions.” United States v. Zahursky, 580 F.3d 515, 521 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 338, 129 S.Ct. 1710, 173 L.Ed.2d 485 (2009)). Indeed, if law enforcement officials conduct a warrantless search, “the government must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the search fell within one of the recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement.” Id. (citing United States v. Basinski, 226 F.3d 829, 833 (7th Cir. 2000)).

         A criminal defendant seeking to suppress evidence, however, “bears the burden of making a prima facie showing of illegality.” United States v. Randle, 966 F.2d 1209, 1212 (7th Cir. 1992). A defendant “bears the burden of both identifying a definite disputed factual issue, and demonstrating its materiality” in order to warrant an evidentiary hearing on a suppression motion. United States v. Curlin, 638 F.3d 562, 564 (7th Cir. 2011) (“District courts are required to conduct evidentiary hearings only when a substantial claim is presented and there are disputed issues of material fact that will affect the outcome of the motion”).

         II. The Investigation and Subsequent Arrest

         A. Underlying Investigation

         In August 2015, a Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) source informed DEA agents that an individual known as “Pedro” was seeking heroin customers in the Chicago area. The source provided the phone number for “Pedro.” On August 24, 2015, a female undercover agent (“UC-2”) called that number and spoke in Spanish to a man who responded to the name “Pedro.” After noting that she was interested in purchasing “something” and that she was in Chicago, “Pedro” stated that he was in Austin, Texas. UC-2 placed this call from a phone belonging to a male undercover agent, Ronald Coleman (“Coleman”), posing as Coleman's girlfriend. The government does not intend to call Coleman as a witness, or rely on his statements in this case. On August 26, 2016, a telephone number ending in -1518 (the “1518 Number”) texted Coleman's phone, stating “Wus up dalu toll me to call u to see if u wona work.”[1] Later that day, Coleman spoke with the user of the 1518 Number, noting that “he [Pedro] said he's in Austin” and asking, “Are you guys up here in Chicago?” The 1518 Number user responded, “We're close.” They agreed to talk the next day.

         Over the next two days, Coleman exchanged a series of text messages and telephone calls with the user of the 1518 Number, who identified himself as “Carlos.” Coleman and “Carlos” arranged to meet, and did meet, at a shopping mall in Oak Brook, Illinois, on August 28, 2015. Coleman recorded the meeting via body wire, and a surveillance team observed the meeting. The voice of “Carlos, ” recorded on Coleman's body wire, matched that of the user of the 1518 Number.[2] Although the exact identity of “Carlos” was not known to the surveillance officers at this time, the officers later identified him as Defendant, after Defendant provided his driver's license to an Aurora Police Department officer during a traffic stop.

         On August 29, 2015, “Carlos” texted Coleman, asking “r u want to test drive a car today or monday?” Coleman's response text stated, “sometime Monday is good . . . what's the test drive going for?” Coleman followed up the next day, texting, “So let's discuss car and price bro.” Coleman and “Carlos” then exchanged texts and call, coordinating to meet on September 2, 2015, in the “same place, ” “by the bench.” On September 2, 2015, Coleman and “Carlos” met again. Coleman recorded the meeting via body wire, while a surveillance team observed. In particular, “[l]aw enforcement officers ...

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