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United States v. Quiroz

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

October 26, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Vicente Quiroz, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued Septembers, 2017

         Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Nos. 13 CR 21; 13 CR 968 - Thomas M. Durkin, Judge.

          Before Manion, Kanne, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

          Kanne, Circuit Judge.

         Defendant-Appellant Vicente Quiroz brokered large drug transactions. For his role in a methamphetamine transaction, he was convicted after a bench trial in January 2015. (Case No. 16-3518.) Then, in a second trial in July of that year, he was convicted by a jury for his role in a marijuana transaction. (Case No. 16-3510.)

          Before both trials, Quiroz moved to suppress statements he made after his arrest, arguing that he was not read his Miranda warnings. The district court found that the warnings were given and that Quiroz voluntarily waived his rights. It admitted into evidence Quiroz's statements in both trials.

         The district court also admitted several out-of-court statements at both trials. It admitted recorded conversations between Quiroz and the government's confidential informant. And it admitted recordings of other declarants under the hearsay exception for coconspirator statements.

         In this consolidated appeal from his convictions in both trials, Quiroz argues that the district court improperly admitted his own post-arrest statements and the out-of-court statements of the confidential informant and coconspirators. We disagree, so we affirm both of Quiroz's convictions.

         I. Background

         In 2011, Benjamin Vance met Vicente Quiroz. In May 2012, Vance was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") for trafficking in cocaine and began cooperating with the government. In a series of recorded phone calls from October 2012 through January 2013, Vance and Quiroz arranged the purchase of approximately 70 pounds of methamphetamine and approximately 1, 200 pounds of marijuana. Quiroz brokered the transactions, setting Vance up with the sellers.

         A. Investigation and Arrest of Quiroz

         In October 2012, Quiroz told Vance that he had arranged for two suppliers to deliver 50 pounds of methamphetamine to Vance. Under the DEA's direction, Vance told Quiroz that he knew a pilot who could pick up the methamphetamine in Indio, California. Quiroz responded that he would send a courier named Javier to deliver the methamphetamine to Vance's pilot and gave Vance that courier's phone number. On October 10th, an undercover DE A agent posed as the pilot and called that number. His call was returned by a man who identified himself as Javier. Javier agreed to meet the agent at a McDonald's, where he delivered a box containing 10 packages of methamphetamine totaling nearly 22 pounds in weight. The DEA surveilled the encounter.

         About a week later, Quiroz asked Vance if he wanted to pick up more methamphetamine in the Chicagoland area, giving him the number of a courier named Cesar. Cesar and Vance arranged to meet in the parking lot of Rivers Casino near O'Hare airport. Under DEA surveillance, Vance went to the parking lot wearing a recording device. There, Cesar took a box from his car and placed it into Vance's vehicle. That box contained 22 packages of methamphetamine totaling about 44 pounds in weight.

         In January 2013, Quiroz told Vance that he had an available marijuana delivery and that he would give the courier, later identified as Hector Barraza, Vance's number. Vance and Barraza arranged the delivery, and they met at a McDonald's outside Berwyn, Illinois. Vance asked to see the marijuana before he agreed to purchase it. Barraza indicated the marijuana was nearby, and the two then met at a Denny's restaurant under DEA surveillance. Barraza delivered a black bag of marijuana to Vance, then left to get the rest. The DEA arrested Barraza after he returned to the Denny's parking lot in a van containing 202 cylinders of marijuana totaling about 1, 200 pounds in weight.

         On March 27, 2013, DE A Agents Christopher O'Reilly and David Brazao arrested Quiroz outside his mother's home in Phoenix, Arizona. The officers placed him in the back seat of Agent O'Reilly's car while the agents conducted a protective sweep of the home with Quiroz's consent. After the security search, Agent O'Reilly read Quiroz his Miranda rights, reciting them partly from his Miranda card and partly from his own memory. According to Agent O'Reilly's testimony, Quiroz did not seem confused in any way or ask any questions; he was nervous but "seemed to understand everything [the agents] were saying." (Bench Trial R. 204 at 39.) When asked if he understood the rights that had just been read to him, Quiroz responded, "I did nothing." (Id. at 38, 73.)

         Agents O'Reilly and Brazao then explained their investigation and told him about the phone recordings they had acquired. Quiroz then made inculpatory statements. The agents transported Quiroz to the DEA office in Phoenix. There, Quiroz told agents he would not sign any Miranda waiver or other paperwork, but he continued to engage with the agents and made more inculpatory statements.

         B. Admission of Quiroz's Post-Arrest Statements

         At the final pretrial conference before the bench trial, Quiroz told the district court, "I never got my Miranda rights written. I never signed a waiver so that person can come and say, 'He made a statement.'" (Bench Trial R. 154 at 26.) The government then told the court that Quiroz had been orally advised of his Miranda rights, to which Quiroz responded, "[T]hey've never read me my Miranda rights." (Id. at 30.) The district court decided to hold a suppression hearing. Agent O'Reilly was the only government witness; Quiroz did not present any evidence.

         The district court found that Quiroz waived his Miranda rights. The court credited Agent O'Reilly's testimony that Quiroz was in fact read his Miranda warnings. It went on to find that Quiroz's statement-"I did nothing"-was a voluntary knowing, and intelligent waiver of his rights. ...

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