United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AS MODIFIED
AND DENYING MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS
E. SCHREIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Justin Thomas Morales, Chase Logan Guzman, and Daniel Hunter
Guzman are charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled
substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)
and 846. Docket 49. Defendant Chase Guzman is also charged
with carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking
crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A).
Id. All three defendants have filed motions to
suppress evidence obtained and statements made. Dockets 73,
76, 84, 91. The court referred defendants' motions to
Magistrate Judge Veronica Duffy under 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B). After holding an evidentiary hearing,
Magistrate Judge Duffy recommended the following:
Defendant Justin Morales's motion to suppress (Docket 76,
91) should be denied in part and granted in part:
a. The motion to suppress physical evidence obtained from the
traffic stop and the search of the Young Running Crane
trailer should be denied.
b. The motion to suppress his statements made to law
enforcement should be granted as to the statements made from
15:10:50 until 15:33:30 on Exhibit B.
c. The motion to suppress his statements made to law
enforcement should be denied as to the statements made from
15:33:36 until the end of Exhibit B.
Defendant Chase Guzman's motion to suppress (Docket 73)
should be denied.
Defendant Daniel Hunter Guzman's motion to suppress
(Docket 84) should be denied.
three defendants object to various findings in the Report and
Recommendation. Dockets 116, 117, 118. After a de novo review
of the Report and Recommendation and a review of the record,
the court adopts the Report and Recommendation as modified
below and denies the defendants' motions.
court's review of a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Rule
72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court reviews
de novo any objections to the magistrate judge's
recommendations with respect to dispositive matters that are
timely made and specific. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Because motions to suppress evidence are
considered dispositive matters, a magistrate judge's
recommendation regarding such a motion is subject to de novo
review. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); see also United
States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673 (1980). In
conducting a de novo review, this court may then
“accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United
States v. Craft, 30 F.3d 1044, 1045 (8th Cir. 1994).
has objected to some of the magistrate judge's factual
findings. See Docket 117. A full recitation of the
facts can be found in the Report and Recommendation (Docket
111), but after a de novo review of the evidence, the court
finds the pertinent facts relevant to defendants'
objections are as follows:
about March 10, 2016, ATF Special Agents Emmet Warkenthien
and Brent Fair were contacted by a confidential informant
(CI) with information that a “Speedy, ” later
identified as Justin Morales from Wichita, Kansas, was
trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine to Sioux
Falls and other nearby areas for sale. Docket 99 at 15:4-23;
19:21-20:23. This particular CI had previously worked with
ATF and provided reliable information. Docket 87-1 at 3.
Speedy wanted the CI to help transport the drugs from Wichita
and distribute the drugs in the Sioux Falls area. Docket 99
at 21:4-12. The CI also conveyed to the officers that Speedy
indicated he had firearms for sale as well, and SA Fair
corroborated this statement by seeing screen-capture photos
of Justin holding firearms. Id. at 21:15-22:18. Upon
conducting a criminal history check on Justin, the officers
learned Justin had at least one prior felony conviction and
thus was prohibited from possessing firearms. Id. at
April 20, 2016, the CI received a sample of methamphetamine
from Justin at a Sioux Falls gas station. Id. at
23:7-24:8. Later that same day, the ATF agents conducted
surveillance on Justin and observed him provide five ounces
of methamphetamine to the CI in exchange for $5, 000 in a
controlled purchase at a Sioux Falls restaurant parking lot.
Id. at 24:4-25:23. Over the next several months, the
CI discussed purchasing methamphetamine from Justin in many
recorded telephone conversations with Justin. Id. at
testified that on September 22, 2016, the CI contacted SA
Warkenthien and told Agent Warkenthien that Justin Morales
and Chase Guzman were staying at the Days Inn hotel in Sioux
Falls and they had methamphetamine and marijuana to sell.
Id. at 30:3-8; 31:1-10. Based on the CI's
report, SA Fair began conducting surveillance on the Days Inn
hotel. Id. at 41:19-42:6. He observed two vehicles
with Kansas license plates parked there, which were
registered to Jacqueline Morales and Chase Guzman.
Id. One of the two Kansas-plated vehicles, a grey
minivan, left but eventually returned to the Days Inn hotel
parking lot where SA Fair saw Justin Morales and another male
exit the minivan and get into the CI's vehicle.
Id. at 44:2-17. Prior to the traffic stop later in
the day, this other male was identified as Chase Guzman by
other law enforcement officers who were also working on the
investigation. Id. at 209:2-210:4. SA Fair testified
that the CI, Justin, and Chase then went to lunch together.
Id. at 44:2-17.
CI's vehicle returned to the hotel parking lot and
dropped off Justin and Chase. Id. at 46:7-12. SA
Fair was in contact with the CI, who indicated
methamphetamine had been placed in a pizza box. Id.
at 46:15-21. SA Fair and other law enforcement officers
surveilling the area then observed Justin and Chase access
the Kansas-plated pickup truck and get into the Kansas-plated
minivan with a pizza box. Id. at 46:22-47:4.
agents on surveillance followed Justin and Chase as they
drove the grey minivan to the trailer home of Jerri Lynn
Running Crane and later to a Hardee's restaurant parking
lot area. Id. at 50:24-51:13; 56:1-24. Meanwhile,
around the time the grey van stopped at the trailer home, SA
Warkenthien began writing the affidavit for a search warrant
for the trailer home of Jerri Lynn Running Crane, and he
included information provided to him by the surveillance team
over the radio as they gathered it. Id. at 146:1-14.
testified that because the grey minivan subsequently drove on
the back side of a Lowe's parking lot where people do not
normally drive, he believed their surveillance would be
detected before they could conduct a traffic stop.
Id. at 57:1-16. And Detective Dan Christiansen, who
observed the grey van drive in a circle around the Lowe's
building, testified that he was “sure [he] was noticed
following this vehicle” and believed their surveillance
was compromised. Id. at 190:13-193:1. Thus, the
officers' perception was that they needed to conduct the
traffic stop of the minivan soon before the minivan could
lose them or cause any public harm. See Id. at
53:4-54:25. SA Fair testified that law enforcement wanted a
marked police car to stop Justin and Chase's van.
Id. at 53:4-54:25. Because they knew Justin and
Chase were armed, a marked police car would be better for
pursuit purposes if Justin and Chase attempted to flee, and
drivers would be more suspicious if they were stopped by an
unmarked vehicle. Id.
Christiansen contacted Trooper Andrew Steen, who was not part
of the investigation team, and directed him to conduct a
routine traffic stop of the grey minivan. Id. at
154:7-155:6. Trooper Steen, in his marked patrol car, located
the grey van and began following it. Id. at
155:11-15. Trooper Steen testified that he did not personally
observe any traffic violations while following the grey van.
Id. at 157:1-2. But he stopped the van, walked up to
the driver's side, and told the driver-Justin
Morales-that Justin's van had a broken taillight.
Id. at 157:3-14. Both SA Fair and Trooper Steen
testified that this “ruse” traffic stop was
conducted because it was too time-sensitive to wait for a
traffic violation to arise and there was a safety concern, as
law enforcement knew Justin and Chase had firearms in the
van. Id. at 94:8-25; 157:6-14.
Steen then asked Justin to come back to his patrol car, where
he asked Justin several questions and they watched another
officer, Jason Christensen, approach the grey van on the
passenger side and begin speaking with Chase. Id. at
157:17-159:16. Officer Christensen, a police officer for the
City of Sioux Falls who was asked to assist on this traffic
stop, approached Chase and asked him to step out of the
vehicle. Id. at 183:11-20. When Chase opened the car
door to step out, Officer Christensen observed marijuana
between the door and passenger seat. Id. at
184:1-12. Officer Christensen placed Chase in handcuffs and
searched him, finding a glass marijuana pipe on his person.
Id. at 184:8-20. Trooper Steen and Officer
Christensen then searched the van and found about one pound
of marijuana in a bag, a digital scale that tested positive
for methamphetamine, cell phones, and some cash. Id.
at 160:5-25. Both Justin and Chase were then taken into
custody and transported to the police station by Trooper
Steen and Officer Christensen, respectively. Id. at
161:23-162:6; 186:2-13. At the station, officers found
methamphetamine and a loaded handgun on Chase's person.
Id. at 64:2-67:24.
SA Warkenthien was writing the affidavit for the search
warrant while the traffic stop of the grey van occurred.
Id. at 146:3-14. Included in the warrant affidavit
was information gathered from the ...