United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS
TO SUPPRESS (DOCS. 23, 24)
COHN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue,
but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,
and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized.
Const. amend. IV.
a criminal case. Defendants Nabor Acosta-Barrera
(Acosta-Barrera) and Alberto Flores-Hernandez
(Flores-Hernandez) are charged in a one count indictment with
conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C). The
indictment is the result of evidence seized during the
execution of a search warrant at 26069 Shirley Lane in
Dearborn Heights, Michigan.
the Court is defendants' motions to suppress on the
grounds the affidavit accompanying the application for search
warrant was not supported by probable case. Particularly,
defendants contend that the affidavit fails to establish a
nexus between Shirley Lane and criminal (drug) activity.
Defendants also seek suppression, as fruits of the poisonous
tree, the evidence obtained during the execution of the
search warrant (two kilograms of heroin, two kilograms of
fentanyl and $57, 980 in cash). For the reasons that follow,
the motions are GRANTED.
4, 2018, a judicial officer of the 36th District Court in
Detroit authorized a search warrant for the Shirley Lane
residence. The application for the search warrant was
supported by the affidavit of Detroit Police Officer Nicholas
Bukowski. On the same day the search warrant was executed by
DEA agents and Detroit Police Task Force Officers. Evidence
of drug activity was found and seized.
suppression motions are fully briefed and were the subject of
two hearings. The papers consist of the following:
Acosta-Barrera's motion (Doc. 23)
Flores-Hernandez's motion (Doc. 24)
The government's combined response (Doc. 28)
The government's supplemental brief (Doc. 32)
The government's second supplemental brief (Doc. 34)
Flores-Hernandez's reply (Doc. 36)
Acosta-Barrera's reply (Doc. 37).
affidavit states in relevant part (with portions relating to
Shirley Lane in bold):
investigation stems from an investigation into Victalino
Alvares-Torres, a known drug trafficker.
November 2, 2017, affiant received a court order requesting
locational data for the phone number (517) 617-1320 to
identify the holder of the phone based on information from
the DEA that this number was contacting a suspected source of
heroin in Mexico.
November 7, 2017, DEA Agent Stachecki located a red Chevy
Tahoe that he believed was being utilized by the holder of
the target phone. The vehicle was registered to German
Heredia, a previously deported criminal alien. At this time,
affiant learned that the target phone was registered to
November 10, 2017, Agent Stachecki obtained a search warrant
authorizing the placement of a GPS device on the Tahoe.
Between November 10 and 13, 2017, the phone and Tahoe were in
Chicago, IL; Fort Wayne, IN; and Battle Creek, MI. It was
common for the vehicle to make short stops in different areas
of these locations, consistent with information about the
distribution of drugs in Chicago, IL.
November 13, 2017, Agent Stachecki witnessed a Hispanic male
stop at 198 Graves St., Battle Creek, where he removed a
large box form the trunk of the Tahoe and carried it into the
location. About five minutes later, he came back out of the
location and loaded the box back into the Tahoe and left.
Agent Stachecki followed the Tahoe until it was stopped by
Michigan State Police. Upon the stop, the driver was
identified as Victalino Alvares-Torres. Inside the box was a
small air compressor with a hidden compartment containing a
large amount of U.S. currency which was seized by the DEA as
suspected narcotics proceeds. Torres was released from the
from the phone indicated that Torres continued to communicate
with numerous numbers outside the U.S. and Mexico, in
addition to multiple states within the U.S. Torres
communicates with these numbers for a short time before the
contact ceases. Based on affiant's training and
experience, this type of phone activity is indicative of a
narcotics courier who contacts a customer to arrange a
transaction. Once the transaction has taken place, the
May 3, 2018, DEA agents from Chicago completed a traffic stop
of a vehicle in which Torres was seen entering drive by an
unidentified subject. Upon completion of the stop, DEA agents
recovered a bag containing a large amount of U.S. currency.
The DEA agents identified driver as Nabor Acosta-Barrera, a
Mexican national believed to be in the country illegally.
The vehicle Acosta-Barrera was driving was registered
to him at 26069 Shirley Lane, Dearborn Heights, MI.
The DEA agents seized the currency as suspected narcotics
proceeds and searched the remainder of the car finding a
MoneyGram along with a ledger outlining several money pickups
and relating those pickups to Mexico and a possible
recipient's phone number.
According to DEA agents, Alvares-Torres told Agents that he
was meeting with the driver of the vehicle (Acosta-Barrera)
to drop off money. The agents also informed affiant that the
driver, Acosta-Barrera, made an unprovoked statement
concerning the DEA agents following ...