United States District Court, D. Nebraska
FINDINGS RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER
R. ZWART, Magistrate Judge.
defendants have moved to suppress the evidence seized and all
post-arrest statements made on September 7, 2015. (Filing
Nos. 49 & 51). Defendants claim the search of their vehicle
violated the Fourth Amendment, and their post-arrest
statements must be suppressed as fruit of this Fourth
Amendment violation, and as obtained in violation of their
Fifth Amendment rights.
September 7, 2015, the Grand Island Police Department
("GIPD") arrested an individual (hereinafter the
"CI") on charges of possession of methamphetamine.
At the time of his arrest, officers found over $9, 000 on the
CI's person. The CI was interviewed at the Grand Island
Law Enforcement Center by Investigator Richard Conrad and
Sergeant Jerry Atwell, both of whom are assigned to the
Central Nebraska Drug and Safe Streets Task Force.
his interview, the CI admitted he was involved in the
distribution of methamphetamine and stated he was expecting
to receive drugs from his two main suppliers that day. The CI
identified the suppliers as "Jose" and
"Carlos." The CI was willing to cooperate with the
GIPD and complete these previously scheduled buys. GIPD
offered nothing in exchange for the CI's cooperation: The
CI stated he wanted to be a "good citizen."
speaker phone with officers listening, the CI contacted Jose
first and arranged to meet him at a Goodwill parking
lot. As Conrad proceeded to the Goodwill
parking lot to apprehend Jose, he was informed by Officer
Belleci (who remained with the CI) that Jose switched the
meeting location to the Walgreens located seven blocks from
the Goodwill. Conrad went to the Walgreens location.
Walgreens, Conrad observed Jose's vehicle, a blue-green
Chevy pickup as previously described by the CI. And Conrad
recognized Jose Gonzales-Legarda from previous criminal
investigations. Conrad approached the vehicle and asked
Gonzales-Legarda whether he had drugs in the vehicle.
Gonzales-Legarda admitted he had drugs, and officers found
methamphetamine in a bag on the front seat.
thereafter returned to the law enforcement center. The CI
showed Belleci and Conrad text messages on his phone. He
informed the officers that the messages were from his second
supplier, Carlos, who had sold methamphetamine to the CI on
several prior occasions. One text message read "mom is
on her way and wants to meet you." The CI explained that
"mom" was code for an individual named Frank, a
person the CI met when Frank accompanied Carlos the night
before. Frank was transporting drugs from Colorado, and the
CI had planned to purchase methamphetamine from Frank when
Frank arrived from Colorado on September 7, 2015. Frank was
scheduled to arrive between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.
called Carlos to confirm the transaction. Carlos asked the CI
to meet him at his apartment or a hotel to conduct the
transaction. At the officers' direction, the CI stated
those locations would not work. Carlos next wanted the CI to
meet him at a Casey's store. Carlos instructed the CI to
bring $8, 000 as payment for one pound of methamphetamine.
Carlos would then drive to the south Wal-Mart, pick up the
methamphetamine from Frank and bring it back to the CI. But
at the officers' direction, the CI proposed meeting both
Carlos and Frank at the south Wal-Mart. Carlos agreed,
stating he would be in a red pickup, Frank would park next to
his pickup, and the CI should park on the opposite side of
attempted to gain a positive identification of Carlos and his
vehicle before the meeting by surveilling the address Carlos
had provided as his residence. Investigator Joshua Berlie
located the red pickup. After researching its license plate,
Berlie identified the truck as associated with Carlos
Escobar, and he retrieved a photo of Escobar from the
computer system. (Filing No. 76 at CM/ECF pp. 79-81). Berlie
recognized Escobar and the truck from previous drug
was running behind. Officers set up surveillance units at the
Wal-Mart around 2:30 a.m. When the red truck arrived,
Investigator Berlie, who was located in a parked vehicle
nearby, recognized the vehicle and its driver, Carlos
Escobar. (Filing No. 76 at CM/ECF pp. 82, 90). A short time
later, a silver sedan with a driver and one passenger arrived
at the Wal-Mart and parked on the passenger side of
Escobar's red truck.
and the occupants of the silver sedan left their vehicles and
entered the Wal-Mart. Sometime later, Escobar exited the
store, went to his vehicle, and sat in the driver's seat.
Morales, who had driven the sedan, came out next and stood by
the driver's side of his vehicle. The passenger came out
last carrying a Wal-Mart bag, and when he arrived at the
vehicle, he placed that bag in the sedan from the front
passenger side. The officers then moved in and detained the
three men. Sergeant Atwell opened the door of the sedan and
retrieved a Wal-Mart bag from the front passenger seat. The
bag contained a yellow shirt wrapped around a
cellophane-wrapped brick of methamphetamine.
suspects were arrested and were taken to the GIPD station to
be booked and interviewed. Officers Pedersen and Visnaw, who
speak Spanish, conducted the interviews.
was interviewed first. The officers asked Escobar
biographical information including his name, address, and
date and place of birth prior to informing him of his Miranda
rights. After receiving his rights, Escobar ...