United States v. Ramos-Castillo, Crim. No. 18-3499 MV

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
Writing for the CourtMARTHA VÁZQUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Citation410 F.Supp.3d 1223
Parties UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Manuel RAMOS-CASTILLO, Defendant.
Decision Date26 September 2019
Docket NumberCrim. No. 18-3499 MV

410 F.Supp.3d 1223

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Manuel RAMOS-CASTILLO, Defendant.

Crim. No. 18-3499 MV

United States District Court, D. New Mexico.

Signed September 26, 2019


410 F.Supp.3d 1228

Erlinda O. Johnson, Attorney for Mr. Ramos-Castillo

Matthew T. Nelson, Kristopher N. Houghton, Assistant United States Attorneys

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MARTHA VÁZQUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Manuel Ramos-Castillo's Motion to Suppress Evidence Derived as a Result of the Unlawful Search and Seizure of 20270 US Highway 84, Hernandez, New Mexico and Memorandum in Support Thereof [Doc. 45], filed December 27, 2018, and Defendant Ramos-Castillo's Supplemental Argument in Support of Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence [Doc. 77], filed July 3, 2019. The government filed Responses [Docs. 49 and 80] on January 24, 2019 and July 18, 2019, respectively. Mr. Ramos-Castillo filed Replies [Docs. 54 and 81] on February 6, 2019 and July 23, 2019, respectively. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on Mr. Ramos-Castillo's Motion to Suppress Evidence [Doc. 45] on June 21, 2019, and the parties filed their closing arguments on July 1, 2019. Docs. 73 and 74. Having reviewed the briefs, testimony, exhibits, relevant law, and being otherwise fully informed, for the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Suppress Evidence [Doc. 45] will be GRANTED in part, and the Supplemental Argument in Support of Defendant's Motion

410 F.Supp.3d 1229

to Suppress Evidence [Doc. 77] will be DENIED .

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On October 23, 2018, Mr. Ramos-Castillo was charged in a one-count Indictment with Possession with Intent to Distribute 1 Kilogram and More of Heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 (a)(1) and (b)(1)(A). Doc. 20. On December 27, 2018, he filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence based on a search and seizure of his property at 20270 US Highway 84 in Hernandez, New Mexico, including the vehicles parked there. Doc. 45 at 1. The government filed a Response in Opposition on January 24, 2019. Doc. 49. Mr. Ramos-Castillo filed his Reply [Doc. 54] on February 6, 2019, and the Court held an evidentiary hearing on June 21, 2019, during which it heard testimony from Agent Matthew Salcido, a Deportation Officer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Defense Investigator Paula Sanchez-Knudsen, and Defendant Manuel Ramos-Castillo. That same day, Mr. Ramos-Castillo filed an Unopposed Motion for Order to Supplement his Motion to Suppress Evidence [Doc. 71], which the Court granted on July 3, 2019. On July 1, 2019, both parties filed written closing arguments following the hearing on Mr. Ramos-Castillo's Motion to Suppress. Docs. 73 and 74. On July 3, 2019, Mr. Ramos-Castillo filed his Supplemental Argument in Support of his Motion to Suppress Evidence [Doc. 77], in which he brought an argument under Franks v. Delaware . The government then filed a Response [Doc. 80] on July 18, 2019, and Mr. Ramos-Castillo filed a Reply [Doc. 81] on July 23, 2019. The Court will first address the supplemental Franks argument and then address the remaining suppression issues.

BACKGROUND

This case concerns the search and seizure of Mr. Ramos-Castillo's property based on a search warrant. The following represents the Court's findings of fact, based on the parties' briefing, the testimony of witnesses at the evidentiary hearing on June 21, 2019, and the exhibits.

On Sunday, September 9, 2018, a Source of Information (SOI) reported walking his/her dog in Alcalde, New Mexico when the dog discovered a package. Doc. 45-1 at 6. The SOI inspected the package and observed that it was a six-by-six inch package wrapped in plastic. Id. The SOI unwrapped the package and observed a black substance contained within, which the SOI believed to be illegal drugs. Id. The SOI transported the suspected illegal drugs to the Espanola State Police (NPSP) Office, where an officer advised the SOI to return with the package the following day, which was a Monday. Id. The next day, the SOI returned to the NMSP Office and made contact with Lieutenant Chris Valdez, who took custody of the package. Id. The SOI advised Lt. Valdez that a male subject came to his/her house late the previous night asking if he/she had found a package wrapped in cellophane, stating that the package belonged to his daughter. Id. The SOI then asked the man to leave his/her property. Id. Although Lt. Valdez asked the SOI if he/she knew the man's identity, the SOI declined to identify the man. Doc. 49 at 2. However, Lt. Valdez knew that Leon Salazar was the SOI's neighbor, and that Mr. Salazar had previous drug trafficking convictions. Id.

Lt. Valdez weighed the suspected illegal drugs and noted a weight of approximately 646 gross grams. Doc. 45-1 at 6. He then transferred the package of suspected heroin to Region III Agent Janice Madrid, who field-tested the suspected drugs,

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which indicated a positive response for the presence of heroin. Id. at 7.

On September 11, 2018, Agent Madrid and NMSP Region III Narcotics Task Force Agent Gabe Trujillo interviewed Leon Salazar at his scheduled probation meeting. Doc. 45 at 3. As of that date, Mr. Salazar had been reporting to the Espanola District Office of the Probation and Parole Division of the New Mexico Corrections Department for mandatory meetings with his Probation Officer (PO) for months. Id. at 4. That day, upon his arrival, he was taken into a back room. Id. at 4. When his PO left, he was questioned by Agents Madrid and Trujillo. Doc. 49 at 4.

During the questioning, the agents attempted to obtain information regarding the heroin recovered by the SOI. The agents told Mr. Salazar that they were not looking to arrest him, but rather that they were looking for the "main man." Doc. 77-2 at 12. They attempted to instill fear in Mr. Salazar, telling him that people will be targeting him, referring to his family and his nice car. Id. In an attempt to get information, Agent Madrid told him that "there's only going to be one time in your life where the bus comes through and you can pick your seat because the next time the bus comes through, I'm going to assign the seat...I have no problem taxing you both." Id. at 13–14. She also warned him that it could potentially go to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Id. at 15. She told him that she was not there to promise him anything but that she could "easily forget about [him]." Id. at 19. She also told him that they could clear his name, that they could get the money and help him pay off the drugs, and that they "just need[ed] to know facts about how much [he owed] and stuff." Id. at 25.

Mr. Salazar eventually admitted that he would sell a "tripa" (or three grams) for $180. Id. at 30. He stated he got it from a "young kid" of about 24 or 25 years old at his trailer. Id. at 32–33. He said the young man who provided the drugs was the brother of Jesus. Id. at 34. He estimated that he was slightly taller than himself and was approximately 130 pounds. Id. at 35–36. He stated that his new white Lexus was outside the trailer which he had given as collateral for the $23,000 he owed for the heroin he had received two weeks prior, and that there was also a silver-grey car which he believed was a newer Toyota, as well as a white Chevy and a Civic. Id. at 31–32, 36; Doc. 77 at 10. He described the property as one trailer with several rental trailers, with a chicken coop in the front. Id. at 39. He stated he did not know where the drugs were kept, but offered to take the Agents by the property. Id. at 35, 39.

On September 14, 2018, Mr. Salazar again met with Agents Madrid and Trujillo at the probation office. Doc. 49 at 6. This time, his PO sat in on the interview. Doc. 80 at 9. The Agents showed Mr. Salazar several photographs and he positively identified photographs of Jesus and Manuel Ramos-Castillo, and stated that they were the individuals he was describing in the September 11 interview. Doc. 49 at 7. However, during that interview he also initially went back on some of what he had revealed to the Agents at the previous meeting. He stated that he wanted to help them but he did not want to get in any more trouble and that he was "innocent." Doc. 80-1 at 7. When Agent Trujillo asked whether the information Mr. Salazar had previously provided was "off," he replied that he would help if he could, and that he was not trying to get into any more trouble. Id. Agent Madrid also asked if the previous interview was the only day he was going to tell the truth, and said to him: "Because now you sit here, because he's [the PO] sittin' here, I don't know why, if you're lying because he's in here or

410 F.Supp.3d 1231

what." Id. at 11. Mr. Salazar began recanting his statements, saying that he did not get any heroin, and that any heroin he had gotten was three years ago. Id. at 17. However, he then returned to his initial version of events, and stated that the heroin that was recovered was obtained from "[t]hat trailer [he] took [them] to." Id. at 28. He admitted that he had picked the heroin up about two weeks prior. Id. at 30. He said the deal took place in his truck, that he did not go inside the trailer,...

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