United States District Court, D. New Mexico
A. Pori Assistant Federal Public Defender Attorney for Ms.
Letitia Carroll Simms Assistant United States Attorney
Attorney for the United States.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VÁZQUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Crystal
Muro-Jimenez's Motion to Suppress Evidence, filed March
7, 2018 [Doc. 22]. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on
July 25, 2018. Having reviewed the briefs, testimony,
exhibits, and relevant law, for the reasons below, the Court
denies the Motion.
case concerns the interdiction of drugs at the Greyhound bus
station in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The following represents
the Court's findings of fact, based on the audio
recordings and photographic evidence submitted, as well as
October 20, 2016, Crystal Muro-Jimenez had traveled from
Glendale, Arizona, to Albuquerque by Greyhound bus. The bus
began its journey in California and made numerous stops,
including in Glendale. The bus was scheduled to arrive in
Albuquerque at 9:35 p.m. and, presumably, arrived on time.
When the bus arrived at the terminal, Ms. Muro-Jimenez exited
the bus along with the rest of the passengers in order for
the bus to be cleaned. Shortly before 10:45 p.m., Ms.
Muro-Jimenez and other passengers re-boarded the bus to
continue their journeys. When they re-boarded the bus, Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA) Special Agent (SA) Jerrell Perry was
standing in the back of the bus.
Perry has been employed with the DEA for nearly twenty years.
He specializes in intercepting the movement of drugs and
proceeds from illegal narcotics on means of public
transportation, such as buses and trains. SA Perry is
particularly familiar with the travel routes of the Greyhound
buses that pass through Albuquerque. On October 20, 2016, SA
Perry was at the bus station waiting for the eastbound bus to
arrive at 9:35 p.m.
Court had the benefit of listening to the audio recordings
made by the recording device worn by SA Perry [Exs. 1, 4].
The recording in Exhibit 1 and SA Perry's testimony
indicate that he stood at the back of the bus and began
questioning passengers, starting at the back of the bus and
working his way forward. He informed the passengers that he
was a police officer there for security purposes, and would
ask a few questions regarding their travel and what luggage
they had. He asked some passengers for their ticket and
identification. He commented to one passenger that the bus
was “pretty full, ” suggesting that there were at
least a couple dozen people on the bus. [Unoff.
at 57:20-59:24]. The first man he spoke with started to get
up when SA Perry introduced himself, and SA Perry told him he
did not have to leave his seat. The second passenger SA Perry
spoke with said he had met SA Perry before, on a previous bus
trip. The third passenger SA Perry spoke with did not seem to
understand English, so SA Perry switched to rudimentary
Spanish. In total, SA Perry spoke with four other passengers
or parties of passengers before getting to Ms. Muro-Jimenez.
His conversations with these four parties were brief, lasting
a total of almost five minutes, and he only searched the bag
of the first passenger.
Perry approached Ms. Muro-Jimenez, he told her that he was a
police officer and asked for permission to speak with her. In
response, Ms. Muro-Jimenez stood up and started to move away
from her seat. Similar to his interaction with the first
passenger, SA Perry told her she did not have to stand up and
could sit down if she liked. She sat back down. He then began
to ask her for her bus ticket. Her ticket bore the name
Vanessa Hernandez, to which Ms. Muro-Jimenez said “No,
it's Jimenez, ” quickly offering to show him her
identification. She provided him with her identification and
said she did not know why her ticket had the wrong last name.
At the evidentiary hearing, SA Perry testified that her
traveling under a false name was one reason he suspected that
she could be carrying contraband. [Unoff. Tr. at 21:11-12].
SA Perry asked where her trip began (Glendale, Arizona), her
final destination (Kansas City), and the purpose of her trip
(to visit her sister).
Perry tried to ask her about luggage, Ms. Muro-Jimenez did
not respond. She looked down at the floor. SA Perry asked a
second time, and again she did not respond. He then asked if
she understood English and switched to Spanish. Ms.
Muro-Jimenez turned over the blanket and pink backpack that
she had with her at her seat to be searched. She denied
having any other luggage. When SA Perry searched the pink
backpack, he noted that although there was no contraband in
the backpack, he did not think the backpack was the only
luggage she had because there were no toiletries and hardly
any clothes in the backpack. [Unoff. Tr. At 21:21-25]. He
asked her how long she planned to be in Kansas and how many
times she had been there before.
after speaking with Ms. Muro-Jimenez, SA Perry saw the green
and black duffle bag in the overhead bin. He noted that the
bag looked new and did not have a name tag, so he asked a
party of men, in English, if the bag belonged to them.
[Unoff. Tr. At 16:8-15]. They denied ownership of the bag. SA
Perry then continued to ask to speak with two more passengers
or parties of passengers. He spoke to two women, each of whom
spoke Spanish. Then, SA Perry returned to the green and black
duffle bag. He had been talking to passengers for a total of
around 11 and a half minutes thus far, and had consensual
encounters with only 7 passengers or parties of passengers.
However, he removed the bag from the overhead bin and showed
it to 29 passengers, asking whose bag it was. The recording
suggests that he asked each person once “is this your
bag?” He asked some people in English and others in
Spanish. However, when he came to Ms. Muro-Jimenez, who was
the ninth person he asked about the bag, he asked her several
questions about the bag, to which she either faintly said no
or shook her head:
SA Perry: Ma'am is this your bag? Do you know who it
belongs to? Do you have anything inside of it that does
belong to you? Do you care what happens to it? Do you have
any interest in it?
asked 29 passengers whether the duffle bag belonged to
them, Perry took the duffle bag off the bus,
stepped in front of the bus where he would not been seen by
passengers, unzipped the bag, and immediately began examining
the contents. He found two clear plastic bundles that he
suspected contained illegal narcotics. He then re-boarded the
bus and asked Ms. ...