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United States v. Pereda

United States District Court, D. Colorado

August 22, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ARLENE PEREDA, a/k/a “Marisol” Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING BOTH DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS FRUITS OF SEARCH WARRANT AND MOTION TO SUPPRESS FRUITS OF UNLAWFUL DETENTION AND SEARCH AND VACATING SUPPRESSION HEARING

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Arlene Pereda's Motion to Suppress Fruits of Search Warrant (Doc. # 37) and Motion to Suppress Fruits of Unlawful Detention and Search (Doc. # 38). For the following reasons, the Court denies both motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In March 2018, Detective Christopher A. Shotts received information from a confidential informant (CI) that Ms. Pereda was distributing about 10 pounds of methamphetamine weekly out of her home - the carriage house at 1575 Gaylord Street. (Doc. # 37-1 at 2-3.) The CI also disclosed that he had previously purchased methamphetamine from Ms. Pereda and positively identified her from a DMV photograph. (Id. at 4.) The CI further informed law enforcement about a robbery at Ms. Pereda's home, where large quantities of methamphetamine and currency were stolen. (Id. at 3.)

         Based on this information, Detective Shotts began to investigate Ms. Pereda, in part by having surveillance cameras installed around her house. (Id. at 4.) Over the course of several weeks, Detective Shotts observed “numerous individuals at various hours respond to 1575 Gaylord Street ‘Carriage' house.” (Id. at 3.) Several of these individuals stayed for only short periods of time; “arriv[ing] with nothing and then le[aving] with backpacks and or bags.” (Id.) Based on his training and experience, Detective Shotts believed these activities were consistent with narcotics distribution. (Id.)

         On April 26, 2018, Detective Shotts observed Tina Lucero enter and exit Ms. Pereda's residence and drive away in a silver Nissan. (Id. at 5.) Two officers conducted a traffic stop on Ms. Lucero, and after she consented to a search of her belongings, officers found several small bags of methamphetamine and cocaine. (Id.) Ms. Lucero admitted she “just purchased the meth[amphetamine] from Arlene Pereda.” (Id. at 6.)

         Based on these facts, law enforcement obtained a warrant to search Ms. Pereda's residence. (Doc. # 37-1 at 1.) Ms. Pereda now objects to the issuance of this warrant and requests the suppression of any evidence uncovered in her home. (Doc. # 37.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         Ms. Pereda raises two primary arguments in her motion to suppress. First, she contends that the search warrant insufficiently describes the reliability of the CI and the source of his information. Second, Ms. Pereda argues that the warrant did not describe the place or things to be searched with enough particularity. The Court addresses and rejects each argument in turn.

         A. RELIABILITY OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT

         The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures” and requires that “no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath.” U.S. CONST. amend. IV. “Probable cause for a search warrant exists when the affidavit in support of the warrant alleges sufficient facts to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe that contraband or other evidence of criminal activity is located at the place to be searched.” People v. Pate, 878 P.2d 685, 689 (Colo. 1994).

         As pertinent here, “a search warrant ‘can be predicated upon . . . hearsay from a reliable . . . informant.'” United States v. Harris, 735 F.3d 1187, 1192 (10th Cir. 2013) (quoting United States v. Monaco, 700 F.2d 577, 580 (10th Cir. 1983)). Courts consider the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the search warrant sufficiently establishes the reliability of a confidential informant. Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 232 (1983). “Under the totality-of-the-circumstances test, ‘an informant's account of criminal activities need not establish the informant's basis of knowledge, so long as the informant's statement is sufficiently detailed to allow a judge to reasonably conclude that the informant had access to reliable information about the illegal activities reported to the police.'” Pate, 878 P.2d at 689 (quoting People v. Abeyta, 795 P.2d 1324, 1327- 28 (Colo. 1990)). Moreover, “police corroboration of some of the information provided by the informant may be sufficient to support a finding of probable cause, even where all of the corroborated details relate to noncriminal activity.” Id. at 689-90.

         Considering the totality of circumstances in this case, the Court finds that the warrant and accompanying affidavit contain sufficient facts to establish the reliability of the CI and that the warrant is supported by probable cause. The affidavit reflects that Detective Shotts had worked with this CI in the past and they had successfully orchestrated two purchases of methamphetamines. (Doc. # 37-1 at 3.) The CI also provided “pertinent and specific information on individuals involved in the distribution and manufacturing of methamphetamine in the Denver Metro area, ” on numerous other occasions. (Id.) Even more telling, the CI had purchased methamphetamine from Ms. Pereda. (Id.) According to Detective Shotts, the CI “ha[d] never provided information to [him] or any other Detective of the Denver Police Department that ha[d] proven to be false.” (Id.) Moreover, law enforcement verified the CI's information in other ways: as mentioned, Detective Shotts placed surveillance cameras outside Ms. Pereda's home, observing what he believed to be several drug exchanges, and officers obtained a concession by Ms. Lucero that Ms. Pereda had sold methamphetamine to her.[1]

         Having thoroughly considered the issue and the applicable law, the Court finds the warrant and affidavit sufficiently detailed the reliability of the CI to support a finding of probable ...


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