597 F.3d 414 (1st Cir. 2010), 08-1086, Martinez-Rodriguez v. Guevara

Docket Nº:08-1086.
Citation:597 F.3d 414
Opinion Judge:TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Wilfredo MART
Attorney:Luis Rafael Rivera,[*] for appellant. Ginette L. Milan
Judge Panel:Before TORRUELLA, LIPEZ, and HOWARD, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:March 01, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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597 F.3d 414 (1st Cir. 2010)

Wilfredo MARTÍNEZ-RODRÍGUEZ, Plaintiff, Appellant,


Rogelio E. GUEVARA, Chief of Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration; Jerome Harris, Special Agent in Charge, Caribbean Field Division; Enrique Nieves, Group Supervisor; Aramis Quiñones, Special Agent; Nelson González, Special Agent; Francisco J. álvarez, Special Agent; John F. Kanig, Special Agent, Defendants, Appellees.

No. 08-1086.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

March 1, 2010

Heard Nov. 3, 2009.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Luis Rafael Rivera,[*] for appellant.

Ginette L. Milanés, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, Nelson Pérez-Sosa, Assistant United States Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, and Germán A. Rieckehoff, Assistant United States Attorney, were on brief for appellees.

Before TORRUELLA, LIPEZ, and HOWARD, Circuit Judges.

TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-Appellant Wilfredo Martínez-Rodríguez appeals the district court's entry of summary judgment dismissing, on qualified immunity grounds, his claim that several Drug Enforcement Administration (" DEA" ) agents violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from arrest and prosecution without probable cause. Martínez-Rodríguez claims that several DEA agents provided false and misleading statements to the grand jury and throughout his criminal prosecution with knowledge of their falsity or in reckless disregard for the truth in order to manufacture probable cause against him. After a careful review of the record, we find that Martínez-Rodríguez has not made a showing that defendants intentionally or recklessly provided false or misleading statements to support his indictment and arrest on drug-related charges. We therefore affirm the district court's judgment.


Background 1

A. Underlying Drug Trafficking Investigation

The facts that underlie this appeal arise from a DEA investigation into alleged

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drug trafficking activities conducted by several police officers assigned to the Caguas Tactical Operations Unit of the Puerto Rico Police Department (" PRPD" ). On the basis of information provided by a confidential source around December 2000, DEA agents John F. Kanig and Aramis Quiñones (" Quiñones" ) learned that PRPD officer Roberto Martínez-Hernández (" Hernández" ) was dealing large quantities of drugs. The investigation also revealed that another police officer, Alexis López-López (" López-López" ), was supplying heroin to Hernández.

From January to March 2001 and at the behest of the DEA agents, the confidential source conducted two separate heroin purchases from Hernández. The DEA agents also established direct contact with Hernández through an undercover agent, Nelson González (" González" ), who posed as a drug trafficker from Texas. González and Hernández also discussed future purchases of heroin.

Although the DEA investigation centered on Hernández's and López-López's drug trafficking activities, its efforts also yielded information that Martínez-Rodríguez, another PRPD officer, had been in contact with both López-López and Hernández. For example, two subpoenas of López-López's cell phone records revealed that López-López and Martínez-Rodríguez had at least twelve telephone communications between February 27, 2001 and March 26, 2001, and that between April 1, 2001 and April 24, 2001, López-López called Martínez-Rodríguez thirteen times, while Martínez-Rodríguez called López-López five times. Finally, a telephone toll/subscriber analysis of a telephone subscribed to José R. Martínez-Hernández revealed three prior telephone communications between Hernández and Martínez-Rodríguez.

B. The May 14th Meeting

The crucial events for the purposes of the present appeal transpired on May 14, 2001, when López-López and Hernández met with undercover agent González at the Oyster Bar Restaurant in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. Martínez-Rodríguez accompanied López-López to the Oyster Bar that day. Hernández served as an intermediary between López-López and undercover agent González as he introduced López-López to González and instructed them to discuss potential drug deals. After this introduction, Hernández, López-López, and González discussed future drug transactions which included the possibility of buying heroin to distribute in the United States. The three men discussed how the heroin would be delivered and distributed, its purchase price, and payment methods.

During the meeting, Hernández, López-López, and González were seated at the same table. But at least throughout part of the drug-related meeting, Martínez-Rodríguez was seated at a nearby table. When the meeting ended after approximately two and a half hours, the four men left the restaurant at the same time.

C. Martínez-Rodríguez's Indictment and Filing of His Civil Rights Suit

In the course of a grand jury investigation special agent Quiñones testified as to the details of the drug trafficking operation and stated that Martínez-Rodríguez acted as López-López's bodyguard during the May 14th meeting. Martínez-Rodríguez was subsequently indicted and arrested on drug trafficking charges. On August 2, 2002, Martínez-Rodríguez was acquitted following a jury trial. He subsequently filed a civil rights action under

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Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971), against several DEA officials and agents. Martínez-Rodríguez named two group of defendants in his complaint. In the first group of defendants he included DEA officials Rogelio E. Guevara, Chief of Operations of the DEA; Jerome Harris, Special Agent in Charge of the Caribbean Field Division of the DEA; and Enrique Nieves, Group Supervisor and Acting Investigator of the DEA. The second group of defendants included the DEA agents who participated in the drug trafficking investigation, namely, DEA special agents Aramis Quiñones, Nelson González, Francisco J. lvarez, and John F. Kanig (collectively, " Defendants" ).

In his...

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