Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Bruce

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 4, 2013

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Jagan Bruce, Defendant.


DAVID C. BURY, District Judge.

This matter was referred to the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง636(b)(1)(B) and the local rules of practice of this Court for hearing and a Report and Recommendation (R&R) on the Defendant's Motion to Suppress. Before the Court is the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (Doc. 170) on the Defendant's Motion to Suppress. The Magistrate Judge recommends to the Court that the Motion to Suppress may be denied. The Defendant filed an Objection (Doc. 171)to this Recommendation and the Government filed a Response (Doc.174). The Court now rules without the need for oral argument based on the thorough record before it.


When objection is made to the findings and recommendation of a magistrate judge, the district court must conduct a de novo review. United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003).


The R&R addresses the vehicle stop and continued detention in the context of collective knowledge. The Objection addresses both the evidence collected after a traffic stop and "prolonged" detention after the stop for lack of reasonable suspicion that criminal activity of the Defendant as a passenger in the vehicle, particularly questioning the collective knowledge of the law enforcement officers involved. The Government objects to the mischaracterization of the evidence as a whole in the Defendant's Objection.

The Fourth Amendment right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government "applies to all seizures of the person, including seizures that involve only a brief detention short of traditional arrest." United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 878(1975). A brief investigatory stop does not violate the Fourth Amendment, however, "if the officer has a reasonable suspicion supported by articulable facts that criminal activity may be afoot.'" United States v. Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 7 (1989).

In determining whether a stop was justified by a reasonable suspicion, a court should consider whether, in light of the totality of the circumstances, the officer had "a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity." United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18(1981). For purposes of this analysis, the totality of the circumstances includes "objective observations, information from police reports, if such are available, and consideration of the modes or patterns of operation of certain kinds of law-breakers." Id. at 418. In order to uphold the validity of the investigatory stop, a court must discern from these factors "a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity." Cortez, 449 U.S. at 417-18. Often, the data in the record seems equally capable of supporting an innocent explanation as a reasonable suspicion. In such cases, the Supreme Court directs a court to give due weight to the factual inferences drawn by law enforcement officers, United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 277 (2002), and has noted that officers may make reasonable deductions and inferences based on their experience and specialized training that "might well elude an untrained person." Id. at 273. In this vein, even when factors considered in isolation from each other are susceptible to an innocent explanation, they may collectively amount to a reasonable suspicion. Id. at 274. The Supreme Court prohibits courts from adopting a "divide-and-conquer analysis" by looking at each factor in isolation and according it no weight if it is susceptible to an innocent explanation. Arvizu, 534 U.S. at 274. A reasonable suspicion of criminal activity may be sufficiently particularized where officers have narrowed the time and place of expected criminal activity through deduction or through a reliable tip. See, e.g., United States v. Paopao, 469 F.3d 760, 766-67 (9th Cir. 2006) (holding there was reasonable suspicion for a protective sweep based on a reasonably detailed tip from a reliable informant); see also Cortez, 449 U.S. at 419-20.

Four law enforcement officers testified at the suppression hearing: Pedrego (DHS), Suden (DHS), Downey (DHS) and Duckett (DOPS). The totality of the circumstances factors going to the formulation of reasonable suspicion are clearly addressed in the testimony from the suppression hearing.

Officer Pedrego, as one of the law enforcement officers responsible for the extended investigation into Defendant's alleged criminal activities, testified as follows:

Q Okay. When did you get involved in this investigation into the Bruces, Jagan, Tamelia, Jason, et cetera?

A I got involved in October of 2012 with this case.

Q All right. And when did the investigation first get initiated?

A It was November of 2011.

Q Okay. And when you say you got involved in October of 2012, up to what point you were up to speed as to what had been happening up until that point?

A Yes, sir.

Q Okay. And what was the nature of this investigation? What was going on?

A What was going on is back in November of 2011 agents received information that Jagan Bruce along with others were coordinating the shipment of marijuana through the mail to various cities throughout the east coast.

Q Okay. Now the conspiracy dates back to about 2010.

A 2010, yes.

Q 2010?

A Yes.

Q All right. And your information was that that's when they were starting to ship marijuana back to the east coast of the United States.

A Yes. When they opened the investigation in November of 2011 and they started looking into it, they saw that this had been happening since 2010.

Q Okay. And how did you -

A June.

Q - learn that? You said they were shipping. What were they doing?

A They would actually package and wrap marijuana and some various shipping locations, FedEx, UPS and just shipping it in parcels through the - through the mail.

Q Okay. As part of your involvement, were you involved in surveillances of any first?

A Yes.

* * *

Q All right. Also were there other investigative techniques that you used to be able to track that?

A Yes, there was.

Q And what was that?

A Using GPS trackers on vehicles that they were driving and that would lead us to - they would go onto certain shipping locations where we knew that they had shipped there in the past.

Q And you had court authorization to track those vehicles?

A Yes, we did.

(Tr. 9-11.)

Q All right. Now let's move forward to November 19th, 2012. Have you once again put Tamelia and Jagan Bruce under surveillance?

A Yes, we have.

Q Early in the morning?

A Yes.

Q Did you have information that they were going to be involved in a drug transaction later that day?

A Yes, we did.

Q Okay. And that was from a source?

A Yes.

Q All right. As a result of that information, did you garner systems from other law enforcement agencies?

A Yes, we did.

Q And who - what agencies were those?

A Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Pima County Sheriff's Office.

Q Okay. Was there a pre-operational or a pre-op meeting with these other officers and agents?

A Yes, there was.

Q And were they advised of information for example if there was an ongoing investigation?

* * *

Q All right. But anyway, you provided information that there would be an alias he used.

A Yes, we did.

Q By who?

A By ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.