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United States v. Urquiza-Reyes

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

May 14, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MARIO URQUIZA-REYES

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Robert M. Dow, Jr. United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Mario Urquiza-Reyes's motion to suppress [30] and related motion for reconsideration. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Defendant's motion for reconsideration of Judge Der-Yeghiayan's ruling declining to set this matter for a suppression hearing and denies Defendant's motion to suppress [30].[1]

         I. Background

         A. Request for Evidentiary Hearing

         The Seventh Circuit has described “the resolution of a motion to suppress” as a “fact-intensive inquiry” in which the district court must make “credibility determinations” based on “its opportunity at the suppression hearing to hear the testimony and observe the demeanor of the witnesses.” United States v. Kempf, 400 F.3d 501, 503 (7th Cir. 2005); see also United States v. Springs, 17 F.3d 192, 194 (7th Cir. 1994) (explaining the deference given to the credibility determinations of the district judge who has “heard the conflicting testimony, observed the witnesses, and then reached a determination about whom to believe”). However, before a suppression hearing is warranted, a defendant has the burden of presenting “definite, specific, detailed, and nonconjectural facts” to establish that there are disputed issues of material fact sufficient to warrant an evidentiary hearing. United States v. Rodriguez, 69 F.3d 136, 141 (7th Cir. 1995). The defendant must make this prima facie showing of illegality without relying on vague or conclusory allegations. See United States v. Randle, 966 F.2d 1209, 1212 (7th Cir. 1992). As set forth below, after considering Defendant's motion to suppress, the Court concludes that Defendant has not met his burden. Therefore, the Court will not disturb Judge Der-Yeghiayan's prior ruling declining to set an evidentiary hearing in this matter.

         B. Facts[2]

         The superseding indictment in this case charges Defendant with one count of distributing a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). [See 38.] This charge arises from Defendant's arrest by DEA agents on November 21, 2016 in the parking lot of an automobile repair and maintenance shop in Chicago, Illinois.

         According to Defendant, on the afternoon of November 21, 2016, he was sitting in the front passenger seat of a car with Individual A, who was sitting in the driver's seat. [30, at 2.] The car was parked in the parking lot of the auto shop where Defendant worked. [Id.] At approximately 3 p.m., four law enforcement vehicles drove into the parking lot. Three of the vehicles surrounded the car in which Defendant and Individual A were sitting, and the fourth parked at the single narrow opening to the lot, blocking its only entrance and exit. [32, ¶¶ 2-3; 35, at 2.] Approximately six law enforcement agents exited these vehicles and surrounded Defendant and Individual A. The agents identified themselves as law enforcement officers and carried badges and sidearm handguns. [30, at 2; 32, ¶ 4.] The handguns were visible to Defendant; however, Defendant does not allege that the agents unholstered their weapons at any time during this encounter.

         The law enforcement agents ordered Defendant to step out of the vehicle, and Defendant complied with this order. [30, at 2; 32, ¶ 5.] After Defendant exited the vehicle, he was led by the agents to another area of the parking lot. The agents led him to this area with both verbal directions and by physically touching his clothing, arms, shoulder, and back. [32, ¶ 5; 35, at 3.] Once Defendant was in this other area of the parking lot and separated from Individual A, several agents questioned him about what he was doing with Individual A. [35, at 3.] The agents maintained physical contact with Defendant during questioning. [Id.] In response to these questions, Defendant stated that there might be a bag of white powder concealed inside a hidden trap inside the vehicle where he had been sitting. [30, at 3.] Defendant was then arrested and, during the search incident to his arrest, agents recovered three cellular telephones and approximately $4, 530 in cash from his person. [Id.] According to Defendant, the agents never asked him if he was willing to exit the vehicle or talk to them. He did not want to do those things but believed he was required to do so. [32, ¶¶ 8-13.] Defendant avers that a surveillance video depicting the circumstances of his arrest confirms his own recollections of that day. [35, at 1-3.]

         According to the Government, law enforcement agents had Individual A under surveillance on November 21, 2016 because the agents had information that he trafficked controlled substances in kilogram quantities in the Chicago area. [33, at 1.] Surveillance that day began at approximately 10:00 a.m. Agents observed Individual A drive a gray Chrysler sedan several times throughout the day. At approximately 2:27 p.m., agents observed Individual A drive away from his residence in a different car, a black Lexus SUV. [Id., at 1-2.] DEA agents had information that this particular SUV had a hidden trap compartment that was used to transport narcotics. [Id., at 2.]

         The agents followed Individual A to the auto shop and observed him sitting in the driver's seat of the SUV, which was parked in the shop's parking lot. [Id.] An agent then observed two Hispanic males, Defendant and Individual B, in that parking lot. Agents had information that Individual A's narcotics source was an unidentified Hispanic male. [Id., at 1.] Individual B was observed retrieving a tool bag from another car parked in the lot. Individual B and Defendant were then observed walking towards Individual A's SUV. The agent saw Individual B place the tool bag in the rear passenger side of the SUV, lean into the car for a few seconds, and the close the door and walk away. Defendant then entered the front passenger seat of the SUV. [Id., at 2.]

         Law enforcement agents entered the parking lot and events proceeded as described above. According to the Government, agents asked Defendant to step out of the vehicle, and Defendant agreed to do so. [Id.] Once agents had escorted Defendant away from the SUV, they questioned him about why he was in Individual A's car, told Defendant what they had observed, and told Defendant they believed that drugs had been placed into the SUV's hidden trap compartment. At this point, Defendant made the allegedly incriminating statement regarding white powder in the SUV's trap compartment. [Id., at 3.]

         Other agents simultaneously questioned Individual A. Agents had information that Individual A always carried a firearm, and therefore agents patted him down with his consent. [Id.] Individual A also gave agents his consent for them to search the SUV. Agents observed that the tool bag they had previously seen was in the back seat of the vehicle; the floor mats were thrown on the seats of the vehicle; the carpet in the back hatch area was a different color than the rest of the carpet in the vehicle; and non-factory metal appeared under the carpet in the back of the vehicle. [Id.] Agents then placed both Individual A and Defendant under arrest and recovered the items described above in the course of arresting Defendant. [Id.] Agents also recovered multiple kilograms of cocaine in the trap compartment of the SUV. [Id., at 4.]

         Defendant has moved to suppress (1) his statement regarding the presence of cocaine in the SUV's trap compartment and any other allegedly incriminating statements he made at this time; (2) the cell phones recovered from his person; and (3) the $4, 530 in cash recovered from his person. Defendant has also moved for an evidentiary hearing on his motion to suppress. Defendant argues that he was subjected to a full custodial arrest, or alternatively a cognizable investigatory seizure, without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Defendant also argues that because his statements were the product of a custodial interrogation conducted without his being given Miranda warnings, they were not voluntary.

         On September 19, 2017, Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied Defendant's request for an evidentiary hearing via oral ruling at a status hearing. [See 49.] This oral ruling does not appear to address the merits of Defendant's motion to suppress. After the case was transferred to this Court, Defendant moved for ...


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