U.S. v. Rodriguez-Alejandro

Decision Date19 October 2009
Docket NumberCriminal File No. 1:08-CR-363-TWT.
Citation664 F.Supp.2d 1320
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, v. Edgar RODRIGUEZ-ALEJANDRO also known as Temo, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia

David E. Suchar, Sandra Elizabeth Strippoli, George Jeffrey Viscomi, U.S. Attorney's Office, Atlanta, GA, for Plaintiff.

Janice A. Singer, Thompson & Singer, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant.


THOMAS W. THRASH, JR., District Judge.

This is a criminal case. It is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation [Doc. 394] of the Magistrate Judge recommending denying the Defendants' Motions to Suppress [Docs. 242, 254, 256, 257, 273]. With respect to the Motions to Suppress by the Defendants Gonzales and Ibarra, the motion should be denied because there was probable cause to stop the tractor-trailer for traffic violations and drug trafficking. The search was also authorized by the consent of Gonzales. With respect to the Motions to Suppress of Quezadas and Martinez, the Defendants did not establish a legitimate expectation of privacy which would give them standing to contest the search of 3241 Hamilton Road. With respect to Pelon's Motion to Suppress, the 4 cell phones were found in plain view incident to the Defendant' arrest. The Court approves and adopts the Report and Recommendation as the judgment of the Court. The Defendants' Motions to Suppress [Docs. 242, 254, 256, 257, 273] are DENIED.


RUSSELL G. VINEYARD, United States Magistrate Judge.

Attached is the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and N.D. Ga. Cr. R. 58.1(A)(3)(a) and (b). Let the same be filed and a copy, with a copy of this Order, be served upon counsel for the parties.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), each party may file written objections, if any, to the Report and Recommendation within ten (10) days of receipt of this Order. Should objections be filed, they shall specify with particularity the alleged error(s) made (including reference by page number to the transcript if applicable) and shall be served upon the opposing party. The party filing objections will be responsible for obtaining and filing the transcript of any evidentiary hearing for review by the District Court. If no objections are filed, the Report and Recommendation may be adopted as the opinion and order of the District Court and any appellate review of factual findings will be limited to a plain error review. United States v. Slay, 714 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir.1983).

Pursuant to Title 18, U.S.C. § 3161(h)(1)(F), the above-referenced ten (10) days allowed for filing objections is EXCLUDED from the computation of time under the Speedy Trial Act, whether or not objections are actually filed. The Clerk is DIRECTED to submit the Report and Recommendation with objections, if any, to the District Court after expiration of the above time period.

IT IS SO ORDERED and DIRECTED, this 11th day of September, 2009.


Defendants Eder Jonathan Mora Quezadas ("Mora Quezadas"), Gustavo Martinez ("Martinez"), David Gonzales, Jr. ("Gonzales"), Rodolfo Ibarra, Jr. ("Ibarra"), and FNU/LNU # 2, a/k/a Pelon ("Pelon"), and other co-defendants, have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, possession of at least five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute, and money laundering. [Doc. 1]. These defendants have filed motions to suppress evidence. [Docs. 242, 254, 256, 257, & 273].1 After evidentiary hearings on the motions,2 the parties filed post-hearing briefs, [Docs. 301, 311, 323, 353, 357, 368, 377, & 385], and the motions are now ripe for ruling. For the following reasons, the undersigned REOMMENDS that the motions to suppress, [Docs. 242, 254, 256, 257, & 273], be DENIED.3

A. Facts Relating to Gonzales and Ibarras' Motions to Suppress, [Docs. 256 & 273], and Mora Quezadas and Martinez's Motions to Suppress, [Docs. 242 & 254]
1. Surveillance of 3241 Hamilton Road and Initial Seizure

During the investigation leading to the charges in this case, the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") obtained information through court authorized wiretaps that led agents to identify a residence at 3241 Hamilton Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia used by the targets as a drug money processing location. [Doc. 365 at 79-82]. During phone calls intercepted by the DEA, the targets referred to the residence as "the office." For example, the DEA intercepted calls in which co-defendant Edgar Rodriguez-Alejandro, a/k/a Temo ("Temo") would tell his bosses in Mexico that he needed to go back to "the office" before he could provide information on how much drug money had been collected. [Doc. 344 at 5-6; Doc. 365 at 84]. DEA agents began conducting ground and aerial surveillance of 3241 Hamilton Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia in February 2008. [Doc. 365 at 64-65, 68].

In April 2008, the DEA learned through its wiretap investigation that Temo was going to receive orders from his boss in Mexico to contact a certain truck driver and deliver approximately $4.7 million to the driver to transport to Mexico on April 8, 2008. [Doc. 344 at 5-7]. Temo contacted the truck driver on April 8, and, using coded language, they agreed to meet at a Quick Trip gas station off of exit 96 (Pleasantdale Road) on I-85. [Id. at 7]. That same day, surveillance at 3241 Hamilton Road revealed suspects placing three suitcases into a Chevrolet Astro van. [Id. at 7-8; Doc. 365 at 72]. The van, a white Ford Ranger pickup truck, and a silver Chevrolet Impala departed the residence, and the van and pickup truck were surveilled to a warehouse located off of Oakcliff Industrial Boulevard. [Doc. 344 at 8-9; Doc. 365 at 66-67, 72]. The Impala driver met up with the driver of a tractor-trailer at the Quick Trip, and the tractor-trailer followed the Impala to the warehouse, where agents observed three suitcases being transferred to the tractor-trailer. [Doc. 344 at 8-9; Doc. 365 at 66-67, 72-73]. The tractor-trailer then departed the warehouse, and agents maintained surveillance on it. A few hours later, the Georgia State Patrol conducted a traffic stop of the tractor-trailer in LaGrange, Georgia, and seized approximately $4.7 million dollars hidden in the suitcases in the trailer. [Doc. 344 at 9-11; Doc. 365 at 65, 69]. The suitcases had duct tape and orange spray paint on their exterior and were secured with padlocks instead of the type of locks normally used on suitcases. [Doc. 365 at 66-67, 76-77, & Gov. Ex. 29].4

After the April 8 seizure, agents intercepted a phone call in which the targets received instructions from Mexico to begin sending out smaller amounts of money, in increments of approximately $1 million dollars, because the drug organization did not want to risk having such a large amount of money seized again. [Id. at 70]. On April 16, 2008, the DEA observed the same three vehicles involved in the April 8 exchange leave 3241 Hamilton Road and go to Oakcliff Industrial Boulevard. The agents learned, based on an intercepted call and surveillance, that approximately $1 million dollars was transferred from the Impala to a tractor-trailer that day. [Id. at 66-67, 71-72]. DEA maintained surveillance as the tractor-trailer carried the money to Texas and crossed the border into Mexico. [Id. at 71]. The DEA observed nearly identical transactions occur again on April 18, April 21, and May 9, 2008, all featuring the vehicles departing from 3241 Hamilton Road and going to the warehouse, where a suitcase with approximately $1 million was transferred from one of the vehicles to a tractor-trailer each time. [Id. at 72-75].

2. Seizure of Evidence from Tractor-Trailer on April 22, 2008

On April 20 and 21, 2008, agents learned through wiretaps that $1.2 million was going to be delivered to a tractor-trailer driver. [Doc. 344 at 11-12, & Gov. Exs. 1-18]. On the evening of April 20, Temo and the truck driver discussed Temo turning in "some books," which agents understood to be a coded reference to U.S. currency, and that it would have to happen the next day between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. because the warehouse was not available that night. [Id. at 12-14, & Gov. Exs. 1-2]. On April 21, at 3:08 p.m., the truck driver advised Temo that he was ready, and Temo told the truck driver to meet him at the "red drop," a Quick Trip gas station, off of exit 96 on 1-85, and Temo said he would lead the driver to the location where he needed to go.5 [Id. at 7, 14, & Gov. Ex. 3].

At approximately 6:17 p.m. on April 21, Temo had a conversation with Chuki, the individual who had the keys and access to the warehouse, to advise him of when Temo was going to arrive at the warehouse and to confirm that Chuki would be there. [Id. at 15-16, & Gov. Ex. 5]. Agents were conducting surveillance of 3241 Hamilton Road and observed individuals loading a suitcase into the white Chevy Astro van, then they saw the van, the white pickup truck, and the silver Impala depart the residence. [Id. at 7-8, 17, & Gov. Ex. 18A].

At approximately 6:53 p.m., Temo advised Chuki that he was close to the warehouse, and Chuki said that he would be at the warehouse shortly. [Id. at 18, & Gov. Ex. 8]. Agents conducting surveillance of the Quick Trip gas station saw the silver Impala arrive, and agents intercepted a telephone call in which the truck driver said he spotted Temo and Temo then directed the truck driver to follow him. [Id. at 19, & Gov. Ex. 10]. The truck driver, who was driving a flatbed tractor-trailer, departed the gas station, following Temo in the Impala. Temo provided the truck driver directions to the warehouse over the phone, and in one of...

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