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United States v. Coronado

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

August 8, 2017



         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Oscar Moreno Coronado's Motion to Suppress for Evidence Obtained as a result of Violations of Amendment IV to the United States Constitution (ECF No. 62). The Court held a hearing on the motion on August 1, 2017. The Court, having considered the motion, briefs, evidence, argument, and otherwise being fully advised, concludes that the motion to suppress should be denied.


         Special Agent William Baker has worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) since 2004. He has been involved in approximately 20 methamphetamine (“meth”) investigations using undercover agents and surveillance techniques. Special Agent Baker contacted a paid confidential informant (“CI”), whose services the DEA used in other investigations in Miami and Houston. The CI knew Joshua Talamantes from a previous incarceration. Agents knew that Mr. Talamantes lived in Haskell, Texas and had a lengthy criminal history.

         Special Agent Baker put the CI in touch with an undercover officer (“UC”) with New Mexico State Police (“NMSP”). The UC and CI made arrangements for the CI to contact Mr. Talamantes. The CI called Mr. Talamantes and said he had a guy in Albuquerque that wanted to purchase meth and they exchanged numbers. The UC then began communicating with Mr. Talamantes directly via cell phone and for over a month tried to arrange the deal with Mr. Talamantes. The DEA paid the CI for his efforts.

         The UC finally set up a deal to buy four pounds of meth on June 28, 2016. Mr. Talamantes agreed to meet the UC agents in the Lowe's parking lot near Interstate-40 (“I-40”) and 12th Street in Albuquerque. Early in the day on June 28, 2016, Mr. Talamantes communicated with the UC that he was heading that way and would be there in a few hours. The agents knew Mr. Talamantes' identity and what he looked like from his driver's license and prior arrest photographs. Special Agent Baker arranged surveillance of Mr. Talamantes at the meeting location in Albuquerque using agents from the DEA, Department of Homeland Security (“HSI”), and NMSP. Agents set up a perimeter and were stationed at the Lowe's hardware store and at the nearby Walgreens and Four Winds gas station. Special Agent Baker was in a vehicle with the two UC officers and another agent.

         Special Agent Baker's boss first identified Mr. Talamantes by his photographs when Mr. Talamantes pulled into the Four Winds gas station and parked next to him. Mr. Talamantes drove a black Ford Fusion with Texas plates. A female was in the car with him. Agents kept Mr. Talamantes under continual surveillance from that point until his arrest using ground and aerial units.

         At approximately 2:45 p.m., Mr. Talamantes called the UC to let him know that he was waiting on his “boy” to come. Initially, agents thought that Mr. Talamantes was bringing the meth with him from Texas, but his communications with the UC about his boy bringing it led them to believe Mr. Talamantes was waiting for the drugs to be delivered to him. Agents believed that his “boy” referred to someone who would supply Talamantes with drugs.

         Around 4:50 p.m., Mr. Talamantes drove to a Lowe's grocery store where agents followed him. Mr. Talamantes sat there for a couple minutes, and then he drove right back to the Four Winds gas station. He did not meet anyone at the Lowe's grocery store. Mr. Talamantes texted the UC again and said he was still waiting on his guy.

         About 5:24 p.m., Mr. Talamantes pulled out of the parking lot and drove eastbound on I-40. While he was driving on I-40, Mr. Talamantes called the UC and said he had just met with his boy over at Eubank and gotten the meth and would meet back at the Four Winds gas station. Despite his statement, agents did not believe Mr. Talamantes had the meth yet, because he had waited nearly three hours to meet his contact and was driving towards, but had not yet reached, Eubank Boulevard. Mr. Talamantes exited at Eubank and drove to Hotel Circle where he parked in the back of the Amberly Suites Hotel. After less than a minute, a Mustang with Texas license plates pulled up to the Ford Fusion, and Mr. Talamantes had a short conversation with the other driver. Mr. Talamantes followed the other vehicle north on Eubank to a small strip center where they parked trunk-to-trunk behind one another. Special Agent Baker drove by the vehicles and observed Mr. Talamantes and the driver of the Mustang, later identified as Defendant Moreno Coronado, meeting. The meeting took place around 5:53 p.m.

         HSI Agent Chris Martin drove by in another surveillance truck, and he saw Mr. Talamantes reach into the trunk of the Mustang, retrieve a bag from the trunk, and put it into his Fusion. The meeting lasted about three minutes. Mr. Talamantes and Defendant then got in their separate vehicles and began driving away. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Talamantes called the UC to say he had the stuff and to meet back at the Four Winds gas station. Based on his training and experience, Special Agent Baker believed that Defendant was the source of supply delivering methamphetamine to Mr. Talamantes. Special Agent Baker followed Mr. Talamantes in the Fusion back to I-40 and the gas station.

         Meanwhile, Agent Chris Martin followed Defendant Moreno Coronado. Other DEA agents provided air surveillance of Defendant. In addition, agents had already prearranged an NMSP marked unit to conduct traffic stops as needed for the operation. While following Mr. Talamantes on I-40, Special Agent Baker instructed Agent Israel Rodriguez, who was a passenger in his vehicle, to call NMSP Sergeant Arsenio Chavez and tell him to arrest the driver of the Mustang for being the source of supply for the meth they suspected Mr. Talamantes was delivering to the UC.

         Following the incident, Special Agent Baker spoke with Agent Martin and Sergeant Chavez. Based on those conversations, Special Agent Baker learned the following: Defendant, immediately after meeting with Mr. Talamantes, traveled north on Eubank Boulevard a couple blocks to another traffic light where he made a U-turn. Defendant then drove southbound on Eubank to westbound I-40. He proceeded to southbound Interstate 25 (“I-25”). At that time, Defendant started driving very fast, reaching speeds up to 100 miles per hour. Agent Martin had difficulty keeping constant visual surveillance on Defendant because he drove at high speeds, weaving in and out of heavy traffic. Defendant exited I-25 at the Isleta exit. Although Agent Martin and Sergeant Chavez were trying to catch up to him to do a traffic stop, they did not reach him until he was parked at the Isleta Casino and already out of his car. When Sergeant Chavez caught up to Defendant, he was walking towards the hotel. At that time, Sergeant Chavez arrested Defendant. Sergeant Chavez did not give Defendant his Miranda warnings at the scene, nor did he interview him. The basis for the arrest was Special Agent Baker's belief that Defendant was the source of supply of methamphetamine. The subjective purpose of the arrest was not because of the manner in which Defendant was driving.

         Meanwhile, Mr. Talamantes arrived back at the Four Winds gas station. The UC agents drove to the Four Winds, parked, and texted they were there. Mr. Talamantes then got out of his Ford Fusion, brought the bag with him, and gave it to the UC. When the UC opened the bag, it contained approximately four pounds of methamphetamine. Agents arrested Mr. Talamantes and field-tested the substance. Agent Martin subsequently identified the bag as the same one that Mr. Talamantes removed from the trunk of Defendant's Mustang.[1]

         Several hours later, after agents transported Defendant to the DEA offices, Special Agent Baker advised Defendant of his Miranda rights. Defendant waived his rights and agreed to talk. Defendant moves to suppress the statements he made in the interview, arguing agents did not have probable cause to believe he was ...

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