United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT TOMMIE LEE,
JR.'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS (DKT. 99)
A. GOLDSMITH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Tommie Lee, Jr. is charged with conspiracy to possess with
intent to distribute and distribute heroin, in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). See First Superseding
Indictment (Dkt. 79). He has filed a motion to suppress (Dkt.
99) seeking to exclude statements made to authorities on
April 8, 2018 and all physical evidence obtained as the
result of a search of his vehicle on that same day. The
Government filed a response to the motion (Dkt. 103). The
parties submitted a set of stipulated facts (Dkt. 123) and
oral argument was heard on April 26, 2019 (Dkt. 124). Lee
filed a supplemental brief (Dkt. 126), the Government
responded (Dkt. 127), and Lee filed a reply brief (Dkt. 129).
For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Lee's
motion to suppress.
following facts are taken from the parties' stipulated
facts (Dkt. 123), the Government's application for a
search warrant attached to the Government's response
brief (Dkt. 103-1), and the evidentiary hearing held on April
26, 2019 (Dkt. 124).
case arises out of the investigation of an illegal drug
trafficking organization allegedly run by Defendant Nicolas
Medina-Liborio. Brandon Carrier Aff. (“Carrier
Aff.”) in Support of Search Warrant, Ex. 1 to Gov't
Resp., ¶ 4 (Dkt. 103-1). Drug Enforcement Administration
(“DEA”) officers received information that
Medina-Liborio was selling kilogram quantities of heroin and
methamphetamine. Id. The DEA began investigating
Medina-Liborio in November 2017. See Stipulation of
Facts (“SoF”) at 1 (Dkt. 123). The DEA obtained a
search warrant that provided live GPS data from
Medina-Liborio's phone and a pen register to capture all
phone numbers used in connection with Medina-Liborio's
phone. Id. at 2. In February 2018, the DEA arranged
to have a confidential source purchase heroin from
Medina-Liborio at his Wesson Street house. Id.
Shortly thereafter, the confidential source arranged to
purchase methamphetamine at the same location. Id.
Both times, the confidential source successfully purchased
the controlled substances.
April 2018, the DEA obtained a Title III order to intercept
communications to and from Medina-Liborio's phone.
Id. at 3. The DEA intercepted a telephone call
between Medina-Liborio and an unidentified drug source in
Mexico indicating that Medina-Liborio was expecting to
receive a package. Id. at 3. Agents were able to
identify the package in transit and, with the aid of United
States Postal Service Inspectors, discovered that it
contained approximately one kilogram of methamphetamine.
Id. at 4.
April 8, 2018, the DEA intercepted a call between
Medina-Liborio and an alleged customer stating that he
“needed 4.” Id. Based on their
experience with the investigation, DEA agents interpreted the
communication as a request for four kilograms of a controlled
substance. Id. Soon after the phone call,
Medina-Liborio and two other individuals were observed
entering a black Saturn parked at the Wesson Street house.
Id. Agents monitored the live tracking information
and tracked Medina-Liborio's phone travelling from
Detroit to a location somewhere near Dayton, Ohio.
Id. at 5. At 7:55 p.m. on April 8, Medina-Liborio
returned to the Wesson Street address in the Saturn and
carried two luggage bags into his Wesson Street home.
Id. Agents immediately sought a search warrant.
Id. At 8:13 p.m., Medina-Liborio and two other
individuals left the Wesson Street address in the Saturn.
Id. The DEA detained Medina-Liborio and the other
individuals away from the residence. Id.
Judge Mona K. Majzoub issued the search warrant at 8:19 p.m.
Search Warrant at PageID.501. The warrant authorized the
following search of the Wesson Street location:
The search . . . shall include all rooms, attics, crawl
spaces, safes, briefcases, storage areas, containers,
garages, sheds, carports, storage facilities and containers
such as safes, vaults, file cabinets, drawers, luggage,
briefcases, valises, boxes, jewelry boxes, cans, bags,
purses, trash cans and vehicles located on or near the
premises, that are owned or under the control of the
occupants of such premises.
Id. at PageID.497 (emphasis added).
same time the warrant was issued, Defendant Lee arrived in
his car at the Wesson Street house and parked in the
driveway. SoF at 5. He exited the car and knocked on the
front door. Id. When there was no answer, Lee
returned to his car. Id. A few minutes later, a
young man appeared on the front porch. Gov't Resp. at 4.
Lee again left his vehicle and spoke with the young man for
ten to fifteen minutes on the porch. SoF at 5. DEA Agent
Jeffrey Moore, who was surveilling the Wesson Street house,
testified that Lee appeared to use a telephone a few times
while he was on the porch. 3/28/2019 Hr'g Tr. at 11.
agents, supported by Michigan State Police, arrived at the
Wesson Street house to execute the search warrant at 9:00
p.m. SoF at 5. A Michigan State Police vehicle blocked the
driveway preventing Lee's vehicle from being moved.
Id. at 6. Lee was handcuffed and patted down for
weapons; none were found. Id. Agent Moore entered
the home with the search warrant execution team. Id.
He observed firearms, $14, 000 in cash, the two luggage bags,
and over twenty-five kilograms of suspected controlled
agents suspected that Lee was involved in the criminal
activity, Moore left the residence (while the search
continued) to speak with him. Id. at 6-7. Moore did
not advise Lee of his rights under Miranda before he
began asking questions. Id. at 7. Moore testified
that Lee was standing handcuffed behind his back at the base
of the porch stairs when he approached him. 3/28/2019
Hr'g Tr. at 12. Moore asked Lee for his name and asked
what he was doing at the location. Id. at 12-13. Lee
identified himself and said that he was looking for a
mechanic for his car. Id. Moore did not observe
anything at the Wesson Street address that appeared to be
related to car repair. SoF at 7. While at the Wesson Street
address, Lee did not inspect his car, open the hood, or do
anything that appeared to be related to an automobile repair.
Id. at 8.
investigating officers had little, if any, information
related to Lee at the time of the search. Agents saw Lee
approach the Wesson Street residence, but he did not enter
the house. Id. at 7. He was not observed exchanging
any items with the young man on the porch. Id. And
there had been no phone calls or text messages ...