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United States v. Martinez

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH MARTINEZ, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MARTHA VÁZQUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Joseph Martinez's Motion for Suppression of Evidence Pursuant to Franks v. Delaware and Incorporated Memorandum. Doc. 25. The Government filed a Response. Doc. 27. As the Court will explain below, having considered the briefs, relevant law and being otherwise fully informed, the Court finds that Defendant has not met his burden under Franks v. Delaware, and he is not entitled to a hearing. Accordingly, the Court concludes that Defendant's Motion is not well-taken, and it will be DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 10, 2017, law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant on Defendant's residence and vehicle, and they discovered cocaine, cocaine base, firearms, and drug paraphernalia. The search warrant was issued pursuant to an affidavit completed by Detective Greg Reams. Doc. 26-2 (Ex. A, hereinafter “Affidavit”).

         Detective Reams's affidavit sets forth the facts leading up to the Santa Fe Police Department's (“SFPD”) investigation of Defendant. A confidential informant (“CI”) contacted the SFPD in in July of 2017, stating that CI had knowledge of Mr. Martinez selling narcotics from his vehicle in Santa Fe. Affidavit at ¶ 6. The individual further stated they are familiar with Mr. Martinez “because he/she has been purchasing narcotics from Martinez for an extended period of time.” Affidavit at ¶ 6(a). CI provided a physical description of Defendant and his vehicle, and positively identified a photograph of Defendant. The vehicle was registered to Defendant at his home address. Affidavit at ¶ 6(d).

         Over the course of July and August 2017, Detective Reams instructed CI to contact Defendant and arrange three purchases of cocaine base. Affidavit at ¶¶ 7, 8, 10. On the days of each of the purchases, Detective Reams first searched CI for money or contraband. Before the second purchase, Detective Reams “located [a] prescription bottle containing a schedule IV substance, ” which CI “honest[ly] stated he/she forgot the substance was in the pill bottle.” Affidavit at ¶ 8(a). CI was kept under constant surveillance, observed approaching Defendant's vehicle and remaining at the vehicle for less than five minutes before leaving, and kept on surveillance until meeting up with Detective Reams at a predetermined location. The driver in each of the purchases was Defendant. CI was searched after each purchase, and the suspected cocaine base obtained from CI was transported for narcotics testing. In each of the three purchases, the substance tested positive for cocaine.

         During surveillance of two of the three controlled buys, Agents observed Defendant leaving his residence, driving to the predetermined purchase location, and returning home. Affidavit at ¶¶ 9, 10. Agents placed Defendant under surveillance for the duration of the investigation, and observed him in his vehicle on more than one occasion meeting others in “random parking lots.” Affidavit at ¶ 11. Based on his training and experience, controlled purchased by CI, and surveillance observation by Agents of Defendant, Detective Reams stated, “Martinez is and continues to be involved in the trafficking of narcotics, mainly cocaine base.” Id.

         Detective Reams assessed CI to be a credible and reliable witness. Affidavit at ¶ 12. In addition to CI's reports about Defendant and his vehicle, Agents independently corroborated the information through physical surveillance of Defendant. Id. Detective Reams noted that CI followed all instructions without deviation, and made statements against his/her own penal interest by stating that he/she previously used illegal narcotics. Id. Detective Reams added that CI “has provided credible and reliable information on unrelated drug traffickers in both the State and Federal levels in at least two separate investigations.” Id.

         Based on this knowledge, Detective Reams concluded that Defendant was likely to have violated New Mexico State Statute 30-31-20A(2)(a), the trafficking by way of distribution, sale, barter, or giving away of an enumerated Schedule I or II narcotic drug. Affidavit at ¶ 13, NM Stat § 30-31-20.

         The SFPD obtained a search warrant for Defendant, his residence, and the vehicle he was observed in during the aforementioned controlled buys. The search warrant was executed on August 16, 2017 and, at the conclusion of the search, Mr. Martinez was arrested, charged, and taken into custody.

         The Santa Fe District Attorney's Office indicted Defendant on October 3, 2017, and he was arraigned in State Court on October 16, 2017. Doc. 25 at 2-3. On January 11, 2018, the United States Attorney's Office indicted Defendant on the following charges: Possession with Intent to Distribute 28 Grams or More of Cocaine Base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B); Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C); Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g); Using an Carrying a Firearm During and in Relation to a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Possessing a Firearm in Furtherance of Such Crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); and Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a). Doc 2. The State case was dismissed on January 18, 2018. Doc. 25 at 3. On September 10, 2018, Defendant filed the instant motion to suppress, in which he argues that the search warrant was improperly issued because Detective Reams's affidavit failed to establish probable cause. Doc. 25.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         Defendant challenges the adequacy of Detective Reams's affidavit, contending that it did not support probable cause for the magistrate judge to issue a search warrant. This challenge is made under Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978), where the Supreme Court held that a defendant who challenges a search warrant affidavit is entitled to a hearing if he “makes a substantial preliminary showing that a false statement knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, was included by the affiant in the warrant affidavit, and [] the allegedly false statement [was] necessary to the finding of ...


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