United States District Court, D. New Mexico
CHRISTINA ARMIJO Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Zachary
Haulcy's Motion to Suppress Evidence Seized as Fruit
of Unlawful Seizure and Detention. [Doc. 36] The Court
has considered the written submissions of the parties, the
record in this case, the evidence adduced at the evidentiary
hearing held on December 20, 2016, and the pertinent law. The
Court, being otherwise fully advised, denies the
is charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin
and Methamphetamine contrary to 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), and 841(b)(1)(C). [Doc. 14] The present
Motion pertains to the circumstances that led police
to discover those substances in Defendant's vehicle. As
grounds for suppressing the narcotics evidence, Defendant
argues: (1) that the traffic stop that led police to discover
the narcotics was not supported by reasonable suspicion of a
traffic violation; and (2) that the deputy unlawfully
detained Defendant after issuing a traffic citation. [Doc. 36
p. 3, 5]
FINDINGS OF FACT
Court held an evidentiary hearing on Defendant's
Motion to Suppress. Two witnesses testified at this
hearing: Deputy Patrick Rael for the Government; and
Defendant, on his own behalf.
Court finds that:
1. Deputy Patrick Rael is employed by the Bernalillo County
Sheriff's Office, and he is also a task force officer
with Homeland Security. He works on the highway specializing
in criminal interdiction, and his duties include conducting
traffic stops for traffic violations.
2. Over the course of Deputy Rael's fourteen-year career
in law enforcement, he has conducted approximately 10,
000-15, 000 traffic investigations, and he has been involved
in thousands of narcotics cases.
3. On January 15, 2016, Deputy Rael was on patrol on west
I-40 between mile markers 149 and 131.
4. Deputy Real noticed a small passenger car-a maroon
Saturn-following a tractor-trailer at a distance of less than
three car lengths. The Saturn passed the tractor trailer and
pulled in front of it, again, leaving less than three car
lengths between the two vehicles.
5. A tractor trailer's mirrors do not reflect a vehicle
that is within three car lengths of the tractor trailer.
Thus, a car that is travelling within three car lengths
behind a tractor trailer is invisible to the tractor
6. A car travelling within three car lengths in front of a
tractor trailer does not permit the driver of the tractor
trailer to stop on time to avoid a collision in the event
that the car must make an evasive move in traffic.
7. It is unreasonable and unsafe to travel within three car
lengths of a tractor trailer at highway speed.
8. Deputy Rael, having observed the Saturn's unsafe
driving proximity to the tractor trailer, initiated a traffic
stop of the Saturn.
9. Defendant was the driver, and sole occupant, of the
10. In response to Deputy Rael's request for
documentation, Defendant provided the deputy with his
driver's license and a ...