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United States v. Wilson

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 6, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Chester Wayne Wilson, Defendant.

          Chester Wayne Wilson, Defendant, represented by Henry L. Jacobs, Law Offices of Henry Jacobs PLLC.

          USA, Plaintiff, represented by Sarah Bullard Houston, U.S. Attorneys Office & Lori Lynne Price, U.S. Attorneys Office.


          LYNNETTE C. KIMMINS, Magistrate Judge.

         Pending before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements (Doc. 29) and Defendant's Motion to Suppress Fruits of Illegal Seizure (Doc. 30). This matter came before the Court for a hearing and a report and recommendation as a result of a referral, pursuant to LRCrim 57.6. Evidence and argument were heard on July 18, 2016, and August 17 and 19, 2016.[1] This matter was submitted following oral argument at the conclusion of the hearing.

         Defendant alleges his statement was involuntary and the government agents lacked probable cause to seize the package. Having now considered the matter, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the District Court, after its independent review, deny Defendant's motions to suppress.


         DEA Special Agent Julio Chicas testified that, in July 2015, DEA agents Bell and Key from Panama City, Florida notified him that a Chester Wayne Wilson was supplying methamphetamine to persons in Florida. (RT 7/18/16 at 12, 61; RT 8/17/16 at 11-12, 14-16.) Based on a records check on Wilson, on August 12, 2015, DEA agents conducted surveillance at an address on Lola Place, at which agents saw a motorcycle registered to Wilson. (RT 7/18/16 at 12-13; RT 8/17/16 at 26-27.) They also observed a green Bravada and a silver Honda Civic at that address, both of which were registered to Lee Allen Babb. (RT 7/18/16 at 12-13; 26-27.) The records check included Wilson's driver's license photo. (RT 8/17/16 at 29.)

         Agents Bell and Key informed SA Chicas that, on November 17, 2015, they would be sending money to Wilson at a townhome located at 2505 North Dodge. ( Id. at 14-16.) Florida agents provided Tucson agents a tracking number which allowed the Tucson agents to track when the FedEx truck would be delivering the package of money. (RT 7/18/16 at 17.) SA Chicas conducted surveillance at the Dodge address and Wilson arrived there in the Bravada at 9:23 a.m., just before the FedEx truck was scheduled to arrive. ( Id. at 16-17.) The agents could not observe the actual FedEx delivery but the truck arrived at that address at 9:26 a.m. ( Id. at 17; RT 8/17/16 at 38.) Wilson left that address approximately one hour later with a satchel. (RT 7/18/16 at 18.)

         Agents Bell and Key informed SA Chicas that they anticipated Wilson shipping them a package of methamphetamine on November 18, 2015. ( Id. ) SA Chicas set up surveillance on the 18th, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Wilson's house and the FedEx shipping center, because this was shortly before FedEx closed at 6 p.m. ( Id. at 29-30, 51.) During a call between Wilson and an undercover agent (UA), at 5:40 p.m.[2] on the 18th, Wilson clarified that he was to ship the methamphetamine to Conlon at 4003 West 19th Street, Panama City, FL 32405. ( Id. at 25-26; Ex. 12 at 4.) Wilson told the UA that he was right on schedule and that he didn't like leaving packages "sitting around there all day... people walking by it all... day long." (Ex. 12 at 5-6.) Wilson arrived at the FedEx location at 5:50 p.m. driving the Civic. (RT 7/18/16 at 30.) He entered the facility with a package and filled out a shipping label. ( Id.; RT 8/17/16 at 52.) At 6:02 p.m., Wilson called the UA with a tracking number. (Ex. 12 at 6-7.) The agents in Tucson received confirmation that the agents in Panama City received a package from Wilson containing methamphetamine. (RT 7/18/16 at 31-33; RT 8/17/16 at 31-32.)

         At 1:31 p.m. on November 19, 2015, Wilson called the UA and stated that another package of methamphetamine would arrive Friday morning. (Ex. 12 at 19-20; RT 7/18/16 at 33.) Agents Key and Bell informed SA Chicas that Wilson was expected to ship methamphetamine again that day. (RT 7/18/16 at 31.) SA Chicas received notice a few hours prior to the shipping of the package but it did not occur to him to get a search warrant because he "didn't know he needed it." ( Id. at 62-63.) At 4:52 p.m., the UA called Wilson with a tracking number for the money being sent to Wilson, and Wilson provided a tracking number for the methamphetamine he would be sending to the UA that day. (Ex. 12 at 22-23; RT 7/18/16 at 34-35.)

         SA Chicas again set up surveillance at the FedEx shipping facility. (RT 7/18/16 at 35-36.) Wilson arrived at the FedEx facility at approximately 5:50 p.m. in the Bravada. ( Id. at 36.) After Wilson parked his vehicle, a DEA agent saw Wilson hand a package to Shane Karwoski, who was in the vehicle with him. ( Id. at 36-37.) As Karwoski approached the FedEx building with the package, both Karwoski and Wilson were arrested. ( Id. at 37-38; RT 8/17/16 at 56.) The package was seized at that time. (RT 8/17/16 at 56.) The tracking number on the package matched the number Wilson provided to the UA over the phone. ( Compare Ex. 4 with Ex. 12 at 23.) The package was being shipped to John Conlon at the Panama City address provided by the UA. (Ex. 4; RT 7/18/16 at 39-40.) The sender's address was 2505 N. Dodge, the address at which SA Chicas earlier conducted surveillance because the UA sent Wilson money there. (RT 7/18/16 at 40.)

         Wilson was taken to the DEA office and at 6:13 p.m. that day he was read his Miranda rights. ( Id. at 42.) The interview was conducted by SA Chicas and SA Stark, with SA Almaraz present for part of it. ( Id. ) No guns were visible and Wilson was not handcuffed for the interview. ( Id. at 43.) Wilson stated that he understood his rights and he agreed to waive them and answer questions. ( Id. at 43-44, 45; RT 8/17/16 at 81-82, 87.) Wilson stated that he did not want the interview recorded (which would have been standard DEA procedure) and he signed a form declining to have it recorded. (RT 7/18/16 at 45-46; RT 8/17/16 at 82; Ex. 1.) Wilson confirmed his signature on the recording declination form. (RT 8/17/16 at 76-77.) The interview lasted approximately one hour. (RT 7/18/16 at 52.)

         According to SA Chicas, no agent pressured Wilson to make a statement. (RT 8/17/16 at 63.) During the interview, Wilson was calm and did not appear frightened or intimidated. (RT 7/18/16 at 51-52; RT 8/17/16 at 87.) Wilson testified the agents were not threatening and he wasn't forced to say anything. (RT 8/17/16 at 79, 82.) Wilson testified that he was high on heroin during the interview. (RT 8/17/16 at 90-91.)

         SA Chicas testified that Wilson stated that he was shipping methamphetamine to Panama City, Florida, to a person he had not met and that Karwoski had no involvement. (RT 7/18/16 at 47.) When SAs Chicas and Stark told Wilson they had been conducting surveillance on him and knew he had been shipping methamphetamine to Florida for some time, Wilson stated, "What took you guys so long?" ( Id.; RT 8/17/16 at 88.)

         During the interview, SA Chicas asked Wilson if he would consent to SA Chicas opening the FedEx package and Chicas testified that Wilson consented. (RT 7/18/16 at 47-48, 58, 59; RT 8/17/16 at 64.) SA Chicas determined that Wilson's verbal consent was sufficient and he did not ask him to sign a consent form.[3] (RT 8/17/16 at 64-66.) Wilson testified that when the agents asked if they could open the package, he told them the package was not his so he could not give them permission to open it. ( Id. at 70, 85.) At the hearing, Wilson denied ownership of the package and testified that he gave Karwoski a ride to FedEx and never handed the package to Karwoski. ( Id. at 85, 87.)

         Wilson testified that he told the agents that Karwoski had nothing to do with it because he wanted Karwoski to be released so he could feed Wilson's dog. ( Id. at 72.) Wilson stated that after 30-45 minutes of the interview had elapsed, the agents promised that they would let Karwoski go if Wilson talked to them. ( Id. at 72-73, 74.) This mattered to Wilson because he needed his dog fed; he spoke to the agents for the sake of his dog. ( Id. at 72, 73, 79, 83.) Wilson testified that he was reluctant to tell the agents anything, he did not say very much to them during the interview, he didn't confess or incriminate himself, and he did not agree with anything they ...

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