Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Topete-Madrueno

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

October 10, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
FERNANDO TOPETE-MADRUENO, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         On August 9, 2019, Defendant Fernando Topete-Madrueno filed four motions in limine to: (1) exclude evidence recovered from a Samsung telephone, see DEFENDANT'S FIRST MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE RECOVERED FROM SAMSUNG TELEPHONE (Doc. No. 41) (“First Motion”); (2) prevent the United States' Witnesses from testifying about ultimate issues, see DEFENDANT'S SECOND MOTION IN LIMINE TO PREVENT GOVERNMENT WITNESSES FROM TESTYFING REGARDING ULTIMATE ISSUES (Doc. No. 42); (3) exclude evidence from social media and other evidence currently undisclosed, see DEFENDANT'S THIRD MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE FROM SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTHER EVIDENCE CURRENTLY UNDISCLOSED (“Third Motion”); and (4) exclude reference to Defendant's immigration status, see DEFENDANT'S UNOPPOSED MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE REFERENCE TO DEFENDANT'S IMMIGRATION STATUS (Doc. No. 44). The same day, the United States filed two motions in limine to: (1) preclude mention of punishment, see THE UNITED STATES' MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE ANY REFERENCE TO PUNISHMENT OR SENTENCING (Doc. No. 45); and (2) preclude mention of Defendant's state of mind, see THE UNITED STATES' MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OF THE DEFENDANT'S STATE OF MIND (Doc. No. 46). The United States also filed a NOTICE OF INTENT TO USE EVIDENCE OF OTHER CRIMES OR BAD ACTS PURSUANT TO RULE 404(b) (“404(b) Notice”) (Doc. No. 47). On August 16, 2019, the Court granted DEFENDANT'S UNOPPOSED MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE REFERENCE TO DEFENDANT'S IMMIGRATION STATUS (Doc. No. 44). At the September 16, 2019 pre-trial conference, Defendant withdrew DEFENDANT'S SECOND MOTION IN LIMINE TO PREVENT GOVERNMENT WITNESSES FROM TESTYFING REGARDING ULTIMATE ISSUES (Doc. No. 42). Additionally, the Court granted the United States' two motions in limine, but reserved ruling on the 404(b) Notice.

         Having carefully considered the briefing and the controlling law, the Court will DENY DEFENDANT'S FIRST MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE RECOVERED FROM SAMSUNG TELEPHONE, GRANT DEFENDANT'S THIRD MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE FROM SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTHER EVIDENCE CURRENTLY UNDISCLOSED, and GRANT IN PART and DENY IN PART use of the evidence listed in the United States' NOTICE OF INTENT TO USE EVIDENCE OF OTHER CRIMES OR BAD ACTS PURSUANT TO RULE 404(b).

         Background

         On December 19, 2018, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Defendant with (1) possession with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B); (2) possession with intent to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C); (3) possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C); and (4) possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i). See REDACTED INDICTMENT (Doc. No. 14). On August 26, 2019, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Defendant with (1) possession with intent to distribute 50 Grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B), and aiding and abetting under 18 U.S.C. § 2; (2) possession with intent to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) and aiding and abetting under 18 U.S.C. § 2; (3) maintaining a drug-involved premises in violation of 21 USC § 856(a); (4) possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i); and (5) prohibited person in possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924. See REDACTED SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT (Doc. No. 64).

         The United States brought these charges in connection with a drug sting operation investigating the Samaniego-Villa Drug Trafficking Organization (“SVDTO”). See UNITED STATES' RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE (Doc. No. 36 at 3-6). The United States executed a search warrant for 9000 Zuni SE, Trailer D-23, Albuquerque, New Mexico to find evidence of any drug dealing by an alleged SVDTO operative, Bladimir Angulo. Id. According to the United States, agents executing the warrant found Defendant asleep in a bed, as well as a bag of a white powdery substance and a black handgun on the nightstand next to the bed. Id. at 6. The search of the remainder of the trailer “revealed distribution quantities of methamphetamine and heroin, as well as distribution paraphernalia.” Id. Agents also found “three tinfoil balls of heroin along with documents with the defendant's name on them” in a vehicle parked outside the trailer. Id.

         At the August 1, 2019 suppression hearing, the United States, “as part of its proffer, described evidence drawn from social media and other sources that led federal agents to suspect Mr. Topete[-]Madrueno of being a part of the [SVDTO].” Third Motion at 1. At the hearing, the United States also sought to “admit evidence of other drug sales by the other occupant of the residence, and evidence seized from the home of the defendant's brother. Specifically . . .:

1. The drug distribution paraphernalia, i.e., “tools of the trade, ” found during the search of the house, including: digital scales, plastic bags, multiple bags of lactose, a blender with residue that appeared to be heroin, a gas mask, plastic baggies, multiple cell phones, a drug ledger, spare ammunition, and rolls of cash.
2. Evidence of drug distribution originating from the residence, specifically on July 31, 2018; August 8, 2018; and November 15, 2018.
3. Evidence of drug trafficking found on the multiple cell phones found in the house during the search, including text messages indicative of drug distribution and pictures of suspected narcotics.”

         404(b) Notice at 5. For clarity, the four categories of contested evidence are: (1) Defendant's social media; (2) “tools of the trade”; (3) evidence of drug distribution; and (4) various cell phone evidence. The Court will address the admissibility of each category in turn.

         Defendant's Social Media

         The Court will exclude references to Defendant's social media. Defendant challenges the relevance of this evidence given that the United States has not disclosed it. Third Motion at 2. The United States asserts that “the evidence bears directly on the key elements of the defendant's possession of the drugs found in the trailer and his intent to distribute them, ” see UNITED STATES' RESPONSE TO THE DEFENDANT'S THIRD MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE FROM SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTHER EVIDENCE CURRENTLY UNDISCLOSED (Doc. No. 53) at 1. The United States, however, also admits that it “does not intend on using any of this information at trial at this time” but “[i]f and when the United States does decide to use it, then the United States will produce it.” Id. at 3. Despite efforts by the Court to ascertain the details of this yet-undisclosed social media evidence, the United States has provided none. Relevant evidence “has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence[, ] and the fact is of consequence in determining the action.” Fed.R.Evid. 401 (“Rule 401”). The United States has had ample opportunity to demonstrate how this evidence is relevant outside of bare assertions. It has failed to do so. The Court has no indication of what these social media posts reveal about Defendant's possession or intent. Accordingly, the Court agrees with Defendant that this evidence is not relevant and will exclude it from trial.

         “Tools of the Trade”

         The Court will exclude admission of any “tools of the trade” or other evidence found at Defendant's brother's home, because such evidence is not relevant to Defendant's case. Evidence that Defendant's brother is involved in drug manufacturing or distribution does not make any “fact of consequence” “more or less probable” in Defendant's case-in-chief because the United States has alleged no connection between Defendant and Defendant's brother. See Fed. R. Evid. 401. Indeed, the United States does not allege Defendant's brother's involvement in its recitation of facts, see 404(b) Notice at 1-5, or any other filing of which the Court is aware. Without some connection between Defendant and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.