United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUANG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jairo Daniel Castillo Palacio ("Castillo") has been
charged with one count of Alien in Possession of a Firearm
and Ammunition, and Defendant Mario Carrillo Vallejo
("Carrillo") has been charged with one count of
Alien in Possession of Ammunition, both in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 922(g)(5). Pending before the Court are
Castillo's Motion to Suppress Statements, Carrillo's
Motion to Suppress Tangible and Derivative Evidence, and
Carrillo's Motion to Suppress Statements. The Motions are
fully briefed, and the Court held an evidentiary hearing on
the Motions on October 22, 2019. For the reasons set forth
below, Carrillo's Motions are both DENIED, and
Castillo's Motion is GRANTED.
suppression hearing on October 22, 2019, the Court heard
testimony from Officers Evan Milano, Darby Dakkouni, and Mark
McGinnis of the Gaithersburg, Maryland Police Department
("GPD"); Sergeant Raul Delgado of the GPD; and
Detectives Scott Koogle and Jacque Cowan of the Montgomery
County Police Department ("MCPD"). The Court also
received as evidence photographs, documents, and video
recordings of police interrogations of Defendants. Based on
this record, the Court makes the following findings of fact.
The Traffic Stop
August 9, 2018 at approximately 5:00 p.m., Officer Mark
McGinnis of the Street Crimes Unit of the GPD, driving in an
unmarked police vehicle, observed Defendant Castillo walking
with another man near an apartment complex on North Summit
Avenue in Gaithersburg, Maryland. McGinnis recognized
Castillo from a prior police encounter. McGinnis then saw a
minivan pull up alongside Castillo and the other man. Both
entered the minivan, which then drove off. As McGinnis began
to follow the minivan in his unmarked police vehicle, he
electronically checked to. see if there were any open
warrants against Castillo. While he was following the
minivan, McGinnis received a report that Castillo had an
outstanding arrest warrant for failure to appear to address
traffic violations. McGinnis radioed for assistance from
other members of the Street Crimes Unit. Three officers,
Officer Milano, Officer Dakkouni, and Sergeant Delgado,
responded in separate unmarked police vehicles and joined in
McGinnis and the other police vehicles were following the
minivan, McGinnis observed the minivan fail to stop at a stop
sign before turning right onto Gerard Street. The officers
separately observed that the minivan was driving in a
suspicious manner in that it was moving at a very slow rate
of speed, was impeding traffic, appeared to be driving in
circles around the same areas, including in and out of cul de
sacs, and made at least one U-turn.
the minivan pulled into a parking area and partially into a
parking space, such that there was a possibility that the
occupants would get out and walk away, the officers decided
to stop the minivan. Milano stopped his vehicle behind the
minivan, slightly to its left, and the other officers arrived
on the scene shortly after. When the minivan driver attempted
to back out of the parking space, Dakkouni, who had parked
his vehicle nearby and was approaching the minivan on foot,
tapped on the rear of the vehicle to get the driver's
attention and announced, "Police, police."
Suppression Hr'g Tr. I at 45-46. The minivan stopped.
Milano then approached the driver's window, showed his
police badge, and asked in English and Spanish to see the
driver's license. The driver stated that he did not have
a license. There were five occupants in the minivan.
same time, McGinnis approached the sliding side door on the
driver's side and encountered Defendant Carrillo seated
in the middle row seat on the driver's side, with a blue
backpack on the floor of the minivan near his left foot, next
to the sliding door. Carrillo stood up to get out of the
minivan and appeared to be trying to separate himself from
the backpack, which he left behind. Because Carrillo appeared
nervous and would not look at McGinnis, McGinnis asked
Carrillo for permission to conduct a search of his person.
After Carrillo consented and he had stepped out of the
minivan, McGinnis conducted a pat frisk but found no weapons
or contraband. Carrillo was not handcuffed, and McGinnis, who
was in plain clothes, had not drawn his firearm. When
McGinnis asked Carrillo if the backpack belonged to him, he
acknowledged that it did. McGinnis asked Carrillo if he could
search or look through the backpack. Carrillo responded by
giving permission. As Carrillo stood next to McGinnis,
McGinnis opened the backpack and found a knife, a ski mask,
two pairs of gloves, binoculars, and a stocking containing
five rounds of .357 ammunition. When asked where he obtained
these items, Carrillo stated that he had found the backpack
in the park. Carrillo also stated that the items in the
backpack were items he wore to engage in "parkour,"
an activity involving physically navigating through outdoor
spaces. Throughout this encounter, McGinnis spoke English,
and Carrillo responded in a manner conveying that he
understood the questions.
Dakkouni and Delgado approached the passenger side of the
minivan, and one of the occupants opened the sliding door
from the inside. Dakkouni observed Castillo, who was seated
on the driver's side of the third row of the minivan,
move over to the passenger's side of that seat. After the
door was opened, both Dakkouni and Delgado smelled an odor of
marijuana coming from inside the minivan. Delgado directed
Castillo to step out of the vehicle and arrested him on the
open warrant. During a search incident to arrest of
Castillo's person, the officers found a bag containing
marijuana in his front left pocket.
on the odor of marijuana and the marijuana found on
Castillo's person, the officers ordered all of the
occupants out of the vehicle and conducted a search of the
minivan. In the pouch on the back of the middle row seat on
the driver's side of the minivan, in which Carrillo had
been seated, the officer recovered a handgun. The pouch was
directly in front of the location where Castillo had been
initially seated at the time of the traffic stop. Officers
also found three baseball bats, a machete, a knife, a mask,
and a roll of duct tape in the minivan.
all of the occupants were out of the minivan, they were
directed to sit on the curb. Shortly before the firearm was
found, because of talking and movement among the group, the
officers handcuffed all of the occupants. After approximately
30 minutes at the scene, both Defendants were transported to
the police station and charged with unlawful possession of
the firearm recovered from the minivan. Neither Castillo nor
Carrillo were given warnings pursuant to Miranda v.
Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), at the scene of the
traffic stop. McGinnis issued a traffic citation to the
driver for failing to stop at a stop sign and for driving
without a license.
police station following the traffic stop, Sergeant Delgado
and Officer McGinnis began an interview of Carrillo. Delgado,
who is a fluent Spanish speaker, read Miranda rights
to Carrillo in Spanish from a Spanish advice of rights form.
Specifically, Delgado asked Carrillo if he could read in
Spanish. When he stated that he could, Delgado directed
Carrillo to read out loud the heading of the form, which read
"Advice of Rights" in Spanish. Carrillo did so.
After confirming that Carrillo was not under the influence of
any alcohol or medication and determining that Carrillo had
attended high school up to the tenth grade, Delgado then read
the specific rights directly from the form. He told Carrillo,
"I'm gonna read them to you and then we'll
initial each line and mark yes, if not we're gonna...
talk. OK?" Carrillo Tr. 3, ECF No. 78-1. After reading
the right to remain silent, Delgado asked, "Do you
understand that?" Id. In response, Carrillo
nodded yes. After telling Carrillo that "[a]nything you
say can be used against you," Delgado asked,
"Understand?" Id. After informing Carrillo
that he had the right to an attorney and that if he could not
obtain one, an attorney would be made available to him,
Delgado asked, "Do you understand that?"
Id. After each such question, as seen on the video
recording, Carrillo nodded in the affirmative. In addition,
after each right was read from the Advice of Rights form,
Carrillo put his initials next to the corresponding language
on the form. Finally, after reading the rights, Delgado asked
Carrillo if he understood everything that had been said.
Carrillo nodded in the affirmative.