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United States v. Maturano-Marin

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia

February 1, 2017




         This criminal case is before the Court on Defendant Cesar Santos' ("Santos") Motion to Suppress Items Seized Without a Warrant [Doc. 28], with Supplemental Brief in Support [Doc. 51] and Second Supplemental Brief in Support [Doc. 75], and Defendant Jorge Maturano's ("Maturano") Motions to Suppress Statements [Doc. 29] and to Suppress Search and Seizure [Doc. 30], with Brief in Support [Doc. 56] and two Supplemental Briefs in Support [Docs. 76, 81]. Also before the Court is Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker's Report and Recommendation and Order Certifying This Case Read [y] for Trial ("R&R") [Doc. 84], to which both Defendants have filed objections [Docs. 90, 99, 100]. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motions to suppress [Docs. 28, 29, 30] are DENIED, the R&R [Doc. 84] is ADOPTED IN FULL, and Defendants Objections [Docs. 90, 99, 100] are OVERRULED.

         I . Background

         To the extent that Defendants have not objected to Judge Walker's findings of fact, the following facts are drawn from her R&R [see Doc. 84].

         A. Factual Background

         On the evening of May 4, 2015, a confidential informant ("CI") called the main telephone line at the Atlanta Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") office and indicated that he and two other men--Defendants--had recently traveled from Chicago to Atlanta to kill the owner of a restaurant located on Buford Highway. The CI stated that Defendants were attempting to purchase a gun in order to kill the proprietor within the next few days. This CI had worked with the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") previously in other cities, including Chicago. Following the call, Special Agent Robert McAllister ("McAllister") contacted law enforcement agents in Denver and Chicago who had worked with this CI in the past; these other agents informed Agent McAllister that the CI "was reliable, " "had provided reliable information, " and "that he was trustworthy."

         The CI reported the next day that he and Defendants had been staying at a Motel 6 in Norcross, Georgia, and that they were conducting surveillance of the owner of a bar and restaurant in Duluth in preparation for murdering him (the "Alleged Target") in exchange for $30, 000. Defendants and the CI had been to the Alleged Target's restaurant and had followed him to his residence. The CI informed the FBI that Defendants were driving a gray Infiniti, but that "Jorge"--the Chicagoan who had ordered the murder--was sending his nephew, Daniel Rodriguez ("Rodriguez"), to bring Defendants a van and weapons later that day for use during the murder.

         The CI sent via text message photos of the Alleged Target, whom the FBI was able to establish is merely an associate of one of the owners of the bar and restaurant in question. The FBI made contact with him and warned him to stay away from the restaurant and his residence. Additional investigation and consultation with the DEA led the FBI to determine that the Alleged Target and his associate, the owner of the bar and restaurant, were members of a drug trafficking organization ("DTO") in Georgia, and that the Alleged Target may have left a different DTO in Chicago. The FBI further concluded that Defendants had been hired by Jorge to kill the Alleged Target because of his decision to leave the Chicago DTO to join the Georgia DTO.

         FBI agents set up surveillance at the Motel 6 where Defendants were staying, on Oakbrook Parkway in Norcross, Georgia. On the evening of May 5, 2015, FBI agents surveilling the Motel 6 saw a white, 2005 Dodge Caravan minivan ("Minivan") enter the parking lot, driven by an individual later identified as Rodriguez. These agents saw Rodriguez speaking with Defendants and the CI; by text message, the CI confirmed that this Minivan was the one sent down for use during the murder, but that no weapons were as of yet located in the vehicle.

         On the morning of May 6, 2015, the CI informed the FBI that Defendants and the CI were to meet with Rodriguez that evening at Graves Park in Norcross, Georgia, so that Rodriguez could provide the guns; FBI agents set up surveillance at Graves Park. They then followed Defendants, who were driving both the Infiniti and the Minivan, to a location off of Roswell Road near Atlanta. Defendants left the Inf initi at that location and departed together in the Mini van. Agent McAllister testified that, based upon his experience, Defendants parked the Infiniti at that location so they could switch cars after using the Minivan to murder the Alleged Target; this is apparently a common tactic used to "throw the police off, " since the police would "be looking for the car that they committed the crime in.

         Also on May 6, 2015, FBI Special Agent Timothy Burke ("Burke") met with the seller of the Minivan, Robert Escobar ("Escobar") . Escobar explained that the Minivan was purchased for $2, 300 in cash, and provided a bill of sale and information indicating that Rodriguez purchased the vehicle; he also identified Defendant Maturano as one of the individuals present during the sale.

         Later in the day, FBI agents followed Defendants and the CI, who were in the Minivan, to Graves Park, where all three were observed exiting the vehicle. Rodriguez then arrived, stepped out of his vehicle with a bag, and spoke briefly with Defendants and the CI. Rodriguez got into the Mini van with the bag, exited soon after without the bag, and then got into his car and left the park. Defendants and the CI returned to the Minivan and left. The CI then sent a text message to the FBI stating that they had received the guns, Defendant Maturano had inspected them, and the guns were in a bag in the back of the Minivan. The FBI chose to wait to arrest Defendants until they were no longer in possession of these weapons.

         Instead, FBI agents arrested Defendants without an arrest warrant when they returned to the Motel 6. Agent McAllister testified that they wanted to effect the arrest when Defendants were unarmed, and also that they wanted to move quickly so as to limit the risk to the Alleged Target. The arresting team entered the motel room with weapons drawn and wearing ballistic vests identifying them as law enforcement. They announced their entrance, handcuffed Defendants and the CI, and secured the room.

         A few minutes later, Defendants were asked to provide their names and to identify which items in the room belonged to each of them. These items included two black bags, two phones apiece, a wallet and car keys on Defendant Maturano's person, and a second set of keys found elsewhere in the room. The FBI labeled each bag with a Post-It note to indicate which bag belonged to which Defendant. Other agents later conducted an inventory search of each bag, prepared an inventory form, ...

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