United States District Court, D. Arizona
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
HONORABLE BRUCE G. MACDONALD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pending before the Court is Defendant Patrick Franklin
Martin's Motion to Suppress (Doc. 23). The Government has
filed its response and Defendant replied. Govt.'s
Response to Def.'s Mot. to Suppress (Doc. 31); Def.'s
Reply (Doc. 36). Defendant is charged with two (2) counts of
transportation of illegal aliens for profit and one (1) count
of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens for profit, all in
violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324.
Indictment (Doc. 15) at 1-2. Defendant Patrick Franklin
Martin seeks suppression of all evidence obtained as a result
of an allegedly faulty investigatory stop. See
Def.'s Mot. to Suppress (Doc. 23).
to LRCrim. 5.1, this matter came before Magistrate Judge
Macdonald for an evidentiary hearing and a report and
recommendation. On August 11, 2017, an evidentiary hearing
was held before Magistrate Judge Macdonald regarding the
motion. Minute Entry 8/11/2017 (Doc. 37). On August 18, 2017,
the final transcripts were received and this matter became
ripe for adjudication. The Magistrate Judge recommends that
the District Court, after its independent review, deny
February 5, 2017, United States Border Patrol Agent Gregory
Sprintz was working at the Sonoita Border Patrol station.
Hr'g Tr. 8/11/2017 (Doc. 41) at 5:13-16, 9:18-21. Agent
Sprintz has been employed with Border Patrol for eight (8)
years. Id. at 5:17-18. His current assignment is at
the Sonoita Border Patrol station. Id. at 5:3-16.
Aside from a brief assignment in Ajo, Agent Sprintz has been
stationed in Sonoita for his entire tenure. Id. at
6:4-8. In addition to his initial Border Patrol training,
Agent Sprintz has continued to receive on-the-job or regular
training, including particular smuggling tactics used in
southern Arizona. Id. at 6:9-7:23.
The Patagonia Area
approximately 9:00 a.m. on February 5, 2017, Agent Sprintz
went out to Patagonia, Arizona to watch traffic. Hr'g Tr.
8/11/2017 (Doc. 41) at 9:18-10:2. Agent Sprintz did a quick
drive through town, and then parked at the Patagonia post
office, located at Taylor Avenue and Highway 82. Id.
at 10:4-12:25. Agent Sprintz testified that he was parked
facing slightly southwest, where he could observe the traffic
in both directions. Id. at 13:1-6. Agent Sprintz
further explained that the location is very slightly
elevated, which allowed him to see traffic that comes from
the south on Highway 82, as well as all the roads in
Patagonia that feed onto Highway 82. Id. at 13:7-20.
As such, this location allowed Agent Sprintz to distinguish
between people coming from Nogales or someplace south and
those coming from Patagonia. Id. Agent Sprintz also
testified that he is very familiar with Patagonia and the
surrounding area, because he has been stationed there so
long. Id. at 13:20-14:3.
Sprintz described State Route 82 as a rural, two-lane highway
connecting Nogales to the southwest and Sonoita and Tombstone
to the northeast. Hr'g Tr. 8/11/2017 (Doc. 41) 14:4-15.
Agent Sprintz further described Patagonia to be approximately
ten (10) to fifteen (15) miles from the United States-Mexico
international border. Id. at 15:25-16:3. Agent
Sprintz testified that the closest border patrol checkpoint
to Patagonia is located on State Route 83, just before the
Las Cienegas park ends. Id. at 16:4-15. Agent
Sprintz further testified that he is familiar with the
traffic patterns along State Route 82, and that Patagonia
receives some traffic coming from the border. Id. at
16:16-25. Agent Sprintz also testified that he was familiar
with local traffic in this area, and would see cars that he
recognized every day. Id. at 30:17-21.
Sprintz testified that prior to the February 2017 incident he
had been involved with smuggling apprehensions in this area
along State Route 82. Hr'g Tr. 8/11/2017 (Doc. 41) at
17:11-18. Agent Sprintz further testified that based upon his
training and experience smuggling along this route is
moderately to very common. Id. at 17:19-18:6. Agent
Sprintz also testified that Border Patrol apprehends a fair
number of smugglers, and these individuals have indicated
that there are a lot of incidents that are not apprehended.
approximately 10:50 a.m., Agent Sprintz saw an early 2000s
model Chevrolet Cavalier driving northeast on State Route 82.
Hr'g Tr. 8/11/2017 (Doc. 41) at 18:17- 19:1, 66:21-67:1.
Agent Sprintz testified that Defendant Patrick Franklin
Martin was the sole, visible occupant. Id. at
19:2-9, 67:8-14. Agent Sprintz further testified that the
vehicle's make and model drew his attention, because
Border Patrol had recently seized a nearly identical vehicle
that had been smuggling aliens. Id. at 20:11-15.
Agent Sprintz went on to explain why this was important.
Agent Sprintz testified that he observed a silver-gold
metallic Saturn coupe parked in the vehicle seizure area when
he arrived at work that day. Id. at 20:19-25,
23:14-20. Agent Sprintz further testified that he asked about
the vehicle, and then a slide regarding the same was
presented during muster-the start-of-shift meeting during
which assignments are given and other intelligence is
disseminated. Id. at 20:19-21:10.
Sprintz also testified that when the photograph of the
silver-gold Saturn was shown during muster, agents were
informed that three undocumented aliens were discovered in
the trunk after the vehicle was stopped. Hr'g Tr.
8/11/2017 (Doc. 41) at 23:21-24:18. Agent Sprintz testified
that the Saturn shown during muster looked nearly identical
to the Chevrolet Cavalier that he observed on February 5,
2017. Id. at 24:22- 25:4. Agent Sprintz further
testified that a second stop involving a silver-gold,
metallic, two-door vehicle was also described during muster
around the time of the stop currently at issue. Id.
at 25:5-7, 26:4-24. Agent Sprintz testified that the second
vehicle was a 2003 Hyundai Accent, which had been involved in
another alien smuggling event after the Saturn had been
seized, and which also was very similar in appearance to the
vehicle in the instant case. Id. at 26:18-27:4,
29:7-14. Agent Sprintz further testified that he had spoken
with the agent that apprehended the Hyundai, and was informed
that the stop occurred on February 1st and the vehicle had
been traveling north on State Route 83. Id. at
27:5-28:23. Agent Sprintz also testified that he later
learned that the vehicle seized on State Route 83, was a
different vehicle from that shown during muster; however, on
February 5, 2017 he believed it to be the same. Hr'g Tr.
8/11/2017 (Doc. 41) at 28:4- 29:4.
Sprintz testified that agents had been advised that the
small, metallic colored, coupes where the current strategy
being used to smuggle aliens in the vehicle trunks.
Id. at 29:15-30:2. Agent Sprintz explained that
typically the transnational criminal organizations will use a
similar type of vehicle for smuggling aliens or narcotics for
period of time, until either Border Patrol had apprehended
enough of them or the organization ran out of similar
vehicles, at which point they will switch to a different
vehicle type. Id. at 30:3-13, 57:16-58:13. Agent
Sprintz further explained that he had learned about this
strategy as part of his training, as well as from personal
Sprintz testified that he did not recognize the Chevrolet
Cavalier as belonging to a local, nor did he recognize the
driver. Id. at 30:22-31:1. Agent Sprintz further
testified that as the Cavalier passed his position, he
observed the driver, who appeared to be glancing around, they
made very brief eye contact, and the driver then moved his
hands into the 10 and 2 positions and sat up straight.
Hr'g Tr. 8/11/2017 (Doc. 41) at 31:2-10, 45:14-47:18.
Agent Sprintz interpreted the driver's actions as nervous
behavior. Id. at 33:9-19. Agent Sprintz also
testified that the rear of the vehicle appeared significantly
depressed, to the point that the front of the vehicle was
elevated. Id. at 31:20-32:14. Agent Sprintz
testified that on the date in question, the State Route 83
checkpoint to the north was ...