Reconsideration denied April 14, 2015.
Drug violation. Gwinnett Superior Court. Before Judge Beyers..
Sharon L. Hopkins, Tadia D. Whitner, Angela B. Dillon, for appellants.
Daniel J. Porter, District Attorney, Dan W. Mayfield, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.
Following a joint jury trial, Juan Manuel Estrada-Nava, Fernando Padilla-Chavez, and Carlos Humberto Duron (collectively, the " Defendants" ) were convicted of trafficking in cocaine (OCGA § 16-13-31 (a) (2009)). The Defendants appeal from the denial of their motions for new trial, contending that the trial court erred in admitting evidence obtained from an illegal wiretap; the evidence was insufficient to support their convictions; and the evidence was insufficient to prove venue. Discerning no error, we affirm their convictions.
On appeal from a criminal conviction, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and the defendant no longer enjoys a presumption of innocence. We do not weigh the evidence or resolve issues of witness credibility, but merely determine whether the evidence was sufficient to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
(Citation omitted.) Liger v. State, 318 Ga.App. 373, 373-374 (734 S.E.2d 80) (2012).
So viewed, the evidence shows that as part of a long-term investigation, the Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (the " HIDTA Task Force" ) received authorization to wiretap Duron's cell phone. In 2009, based on the intercepted phone calls, HIDTA Task Force officers believed that Duron was brokering a sale of ten kilograms of cocaine to take place on August 13. From the information gathered from the wiretap of Duron's phone, police officers expected that the purchasers of the drugs would provide the sellers with a green Dodge Dakota equipped with hidden compartments that the sellers would load with drugs and return to the purchasers. The transaction would take place at a QuikTrip gas station located off Indian Trail Road in Gwinnett County.
HIDTA Task Force officers set up surveillance at the gas station on the afternoon of August 13. Police officers observed Estrada-Nava arrive at the gas station in a green Dodge Dakota. Shortly thereafter, a black Ford F-150 arrived. Javier Zarate-Calleja exited the F-150 and went inside the store. Estrada-Nava also went inside the store. When Zarate-Calleja exited the store, he directed Victor Ortega Valdovinos, who had arrived in a red Chevrolet Tahoe, to park in [332 Ga.App. 134] between the Dakota and the F-150. Valdovinos then exited the Tahoe and got into the Dakota. At this time, Estrada-Nava exited the store. Estrada-Nava got into the Dakota and remained there for a few minutes before getting into the Tahoe.
Valdovinos then drove the Dakota to the seller's stash house in Lilburn. While the Dakota was at the stash house, the seller called Duron because the individuals at the house needed help opening the vehicle's two hidden compartments. The seller also told Duron that they did not want the buyers to put the money in the Dakota's hidden compartments because these compartments were difficult to open. The seller then advised Duron that the Dakota would be driven to La Cazuela, a restaurant located on Indian Trail Road about a mile from the gas station, and the buyers could retrieve the Dakota at the restaurant.
Soon thereafter, Duron called Zarate-Calleja and directed him to go to La Cazuela because the Dakota was about the leave the stash house. At that point, Estrada-Nava left the gas station in the Tahoe and drove to La Cazuela. Shortly thereafter, Zarate-Calleja and a driver arrived at the restaurant in the F-150. Estrada-Nava then exited the Tahoe and entered the restaurant. When Valdovinos arrived at the restaurant, Estrada-Nava exited the restaurant, and he exchanged vehicles with Valdovinos. ...