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United States v. Gadson

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

June 5, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JUAN GADSON, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE [ECF NOS. 26, 27]

          VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case stems from the execution of a search warrant on 85/87 Edgevale Street in Detroit, Michigan, as part of an investigation into a drug overdose death in November 2018.

         Defendant Juan Gadson is charged in a three-count indictment with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); possession with intent to distribute “crack” cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).

         Before the Court are Gadson's amended Motion to Suppress Evidence Based on an Invalid Search Warrant [ECF No. 26] and his amended Motion to Suppress Evidence Based on Illegal Arrest, Search, and Seizure [ECF No. 27].

         Gadson's motions to suppress are DENIED.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. The Investigation, Affidavit for Search Warrant, and Search Warrant

         The affidavit for search warrant details the investigation.

         The investigation began at the apartment of a deceased male in early November 2018. He was found with small baggies containing a white substance. The responding officer suspected it to be heroin/fentanyl. Sergeant J. Torolski, the affiant, then took over the investigation. Torolski prepared and swore to the affidavit for search warrant.

         Sergeant Torolski questioned the victim's live-in girlfriend. She said the victim was a heroin addict who recently relapsed. She said she recently confronted him when she observed him to be high; he then turned over five packs of heroin that she flushed down the toilet. She said the heroin was packaged in small pink/reddish baggies.

         Sergeant Torolski then spoke to an anonymous source (the “anonymous source”) who had purchased heroin from 85/87 Edgevale on numerous occasions. The anonymous source provided detailed information about the victim's and his/her own use of heroin and about the packaging of heroin. The anonymous source provided a detailed description of the Edgevale location and the black female who sells heroin there, stating that the sales are in the lower flat, but the seller accesses the upper flat to get more heroin. Using police databases, officers were able to identify the black female as “G.C.”; she provided the Edgevale address as hers in a recent police report.

         Within 48 hours of the application for the search warrant, an undercover officer worked with a confidential informant (the “CI”) to conduct a controlled buy of heroin from G.C. at 85/87 Edgevale. The CI had purchased heroin from 85/87 Edgevale multiple times in the past. Before conducting the controlled buy, the officer showed the CI a current photo of G.C., and the CI positively identified G.C. as the person he/she had purchased heroin from on multiple occasions.

         The undercover officer was provided with an amount of pre-recorded funds to conduct the controlled buy. The officer and the CI then conducted the controlled buy: (1) the officer searched the CI for money and/or drugs, which was negative; (2) the officer drove the CI to 85/87 Edgevale in an undercover car and gave him/her the prerecorded funds; (3) the CI exited the car and entered 85 Edgevale, the lower flat; (4) a few minutes later, the CI left the residence and entered the car; (5) the officer and CI drove to a pre-arranged location, and the CI turned over packets of heroin in pink/clear baggies which the CI said he/she purchased inside 85 Edgevale with the pre-recorded funds; (6) the officer searched the CI for money and/or drugs, which was negative; and (7) the undercover officer transported the suspected heroin back to the police station where it was field tested. The field test was inconclusive for heroin but positive for fentanyl.

         While the CI was inside, the undercover officer observed an unusual amount of short stay pedestrian traffic, activity consistent with drug distribution. Specifically, the officer indicated that during the 5-10 minutes he was there, he observed four individuals walk up to 85/87 Edgevale, enter the location, then exit and depart the area after only a few minutes.

         Sergeant Torolski concludes the affidavit for search warrant stating he believes a search of 85/87 would yield narcotics and other evidence of narcotics trafficking. At the time of the affidavit, Sergeant Torolski had over 23 years of experience investigating various criminal cases; he summarized his knowledge of drug distribution operations, gained through experience and training, in the affidavit.

         A Wayne County District Judge signed the underlying search warrant on November 29, 2018, finding that probable cause existed for the search of 85/87 Edgevale based on the affidavit for search warrant.

         B. The Search and Gadson's Arrest

         Officers executed the search warrant on 85/87 Edgevale at approximately 8:00 a.m. on November 30, 2018. The following ...


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