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United States v. Castillo

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 16, 2019

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
JORGE RAUL GUERRA CASTILLO, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          James K. Bredar Chief Judge

         The Court held a motions hearing in this case on December 9, 2019. For the reasons stated in open court, it is ORDERED:

         1. Luis Fernando Cruz Rodriguez's Motion to Suppress Statements (ECF No. 563) is DENIED AS MOOT based on the Government's stipulation that it does not intend to introduce any such statements in its case-in-chief, and without prejudice to the Defendant's ability to renew the motion should the Government attempt to introduce such statements or evidence that is solely and materially the fruits of such statements.

         2. Milton Portillo Rodriguez's Motion to Sever (ECF No. 591), Jorge Raul Guerro Castillo's Motion to Sever (ECF No. 596), and David Ernesto Nolasco Soriano's Motion to Sever (ECF No. 640) are DENIED because Defendants have failed to establish that actual prejudice would result from a joint trial, United States v. Reavis, 48 F.3d 763, 767 (4th Cir. 1995).

         3. With respect to Milton Portillo Rodriguez's Motion to Suppress Tangible and Derivative Evidence (ECF No. 592):

a. The Government stipulated that it does not intend to introduce in its case-in-chief any evidence associated with the phone numbers 443-822-2495, 443-682-5551, and 443-882-8734, or seized from the address 10 Bricin Court, Apt. 4. Based on that stipulation, the motion is DENIED IN PART AS MOOT, without prejudice to the Defendant's ability to renew the motion should the Government attempt to introduce any evidence covered by the stipulation or any evidence that is solely and materially the fruits of such searches.
b. The remainder of the motion is DENIED on the merits, without prejudice to the Defendant's ability to file a motion for reconsideration should the Government produce additional discovery warranting such a filing. The Court has reviewed the application in support of a pen register and real time location information for 919-327-7147 and finds that probable cause exists (Gov't Ex. 16). The Court has also reviewed the application and affidavit for the search warrant for T-Mobile numbers 301-732-1623 and 301-383-6412 and determined that probable cause exists (Gov't Ex. 17). The Court finds that probable cause is lacking in the application for the warrant for T-Mobile numbers 410-831-7191 and 443-599-6921 (Gov't Ex. 14). However, the Court finds sufficient indicia of good faith on the affiant's part for each of the three challenged warrants to justify application of the good faith exception under United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), and insufficient indicia of bad faith to justify suppression.

         4. Milton Portillo Rodriguez's Motion to Suppress Statements (ECF No. 593) is DENIED on the merits. First, the Court finds that the detectives conducting the interview properly read Mr. Portillo Rodriguez his Miranda rights, pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and that Mr. Portillo Rodriguez voluntarily waived those rights by answering detectives' questions. Second, in reviewing the video of the interrogation of Mr. Portillo Rodriguez, the Court finds that Mr. Portillo Rodriguez was not subject to coercive police activity during questioning and that his statements were voluntary. See United States v. Giddins, 858 F.3d 870, 881 (4th Cir. 2017). In making this finding, the Court considers the "totality of the circumstances" surrounding the interrogation of Mr. Portillo Rodriguez, including '"the characteristics of the defendant, the setting of the interview, and the details of the interrogation."' United States v. Braxton, 112 F.3d 777, 785 (4th Cir. 1997) (quoting United States v. Pelton, 835 F.2d 1067, 1071 (4th Cir. 1987)). Mr. Portillo Rodriguez was under arrest during his interview and handcuffed for the entire proceeding. The Government provided Mr. Portillo Rodriguez with breaks, allowed him to talk to his mother on the phone, and did not question him for an unreasonably long period. See Id. at 784. There are no allegations that he was deprived of anything during his interviews. See Id. Though Mr. Portillo Rodriguez appeared emotional and upset during the interviews, he appeared to be in control of his emotions. Furthermore, the Court does not find that Detective Glass's abrupt movement of Mr. Portillo Rodriguez's chair at the start of his interview or Detective Glass's occasional yelling was sufficiently threatening or coercive to overbear Mr. Portillo Rodriguez's will or critically impair his capacity for self-determination, as evidenced by Mr. Portillo Rodriguez's consistent denials throughout the interview. See Id. at 780-81. Finally, the Court does not find that the detectives questioning Mr. Portillo Rodriguez threatened either him or his family. The Court determines that Detective Then's references to his family's safety were not threats, but even if such statements could be construed as threats, no confession or statement was "extracted" based on these statements, id. at 783 (quoting Hutto v. Ross, 429 U.S. 28, 30 (1976)). Accordingly, the Court finds that Mr. Portillo Rodriguez's statements were voluntary and denies his motion to suppress on these grounds.

         5. Milton Portillo Rodriguez's Motion to Suppress Identification (ECF No. 594) and Jorge Raul Guerra Castillo's Motion to Suppress Identification Evidence (ECF No. 598) are DEFERRED until the Pretrial Conference.

         6. Jorge Raul Guerra Castillo's Motion to Suppress Wiretap Evidence (ECF No. 597) is DENIED. The Court finds that probable cause existed for the underlying warrant, 18 U.S.C.A. § 25l8(3)(b), and that the requirements of 18 U.S.C.A. § 2518 were followed in issuing and executing the wiretap warrant.

         7. With respect to Jorge Raul Guerra Castillo's Motion to Suppress from Warrantless Searches (ECF No. 599):

a. The Government stipulated that it does not intend to introduce in its casein-chief any evidence associated with the Santa Rose Jail calls or seized from Mr. Guerra Castillo's jail cell. Based on that stipulation, the motion is DENIED IN PART AS MOOT, without prejudice to the Defendant's ability to renew the motion should the Government attempt to introduce any evidence covered by the stipulation or any evidence that is solely and materially the fruits of such searches.
b. The remainder of the motion is DENIED on the merits.
i. The Court finds that the Government's use of a Homeland Security Investigations Administrative Subpoena (Gov't Ex. 7) to collect phone records was proper pursuant to 8 U.S.C.A. ยง 1225(d)(4). Furthermore, "[p]hone customers have no constitutionally cognizable privacy interests in basic subscriber information," and therefore the Fourth Amendment was not violated when the Government obtained ...

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