Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
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. Santiago-Mesinas

United States District Court, D. Colorado

October 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
11. JOSE SANTIAGO-MESINAS, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A SEPARATE TRIAL

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Jose Santiago-Mesinas's Motion for a Separate Trial, in which he requests that the Court order a separate trial for him on Counts One, Ten, and Eleven. (Doc. # 172.) Having fully considered the parties' arguments for and against severance, the Court finds that under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 14(a), proceeding to a joint trial would impermissibly prejudice Defendant. The Court therefore grants Defendant's Motion for a Separate Trial.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of an alleged conspiracy among sixteen defendants, including Defendant, to “knowingly and intentionally conspire to distribute or possess with the intent to distribute” various amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine between July 1, 2015, and January 1, 2018. (Doc. # 1 at 1.) A federal grand jury indicted Defendant and his codefendants on this charge (Count One) on May 2, 2018. (Id.) Defendant was also indicted on “travel[ling] on interstate commerce with the intent to promote . . . an unlawful activity, specifically[, the] conspiracy to distribute or possess with the intent to distribute narcotics” (Count Ten) and on “knowingly or intentionally distribut[ing] and possess[ing] with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture of substance” containing methamphetamine (Count Eleven). (Id. at 6.) The indictment contained a total of twenty-six counts, but only Counts One, Ten, and Eleven were against Defendant. See generally (id.)

         A. EVIDENCE SUPPORTING THE CHARGES AGAINST DEFENDANT

         To provide context, the Court takes its recitation of facts from the Government's filings, primarily its Response to Defendant's Motion for a Separate Trial (Doc. # 212). The Court does not adopt these facts as findings or as the truth.

         According to the Government, as part of the conspiracy to traffic narcotics into Colorado, co-defendant Adrian Pallanes-Lujano called co-defendant Omar Obeso-Gastelum in March 2017 to advise Obeso-Gastelum that he intended to travel from Arizona to Colorado the following weekend and wanted to meet with Obeso-Gastelum to discuss the transport and sale of twenty pounds of methamphetamine and four ounces of cocaine. (Id. at 2.) Later that month, Obeso-Gastelum agreed to purchase approximately twenty pounds of methamphetamine from Pallanes-Lujano and co-defendant Abraham Rivera-Flores. (Id.)

         Defendant transported this load of methamphetamine on April 2 and 3, 2017. (Id.) In the Government's recitation of the facts, its GPS data showed that Pallanes-Lujano was heading north from Arizona, towards Colorado. (Id.) A Drug Enforcement Agency officer identified his car and observed that it was “traveling in tandem with a maroon Chevy Avalanche[, ] which was later determined to be the load vehicle” and to be registered to Defendant. (Id. at 2-3.)

At 12:40 a.m., on April 4, 2017, the maroon Chevy pulled over to the side of the highway with a flat tire. Troopers responded and the driver was positively identified as Jose Santiago-Mesinas [Defendant]. The vehicle was towed to a storage facility, secured, and ultimately searched after a warrant was obtained. The methamphetamine was hidden in several locations . . . In total, twenty packages of methamphetamine were recovered.

(Id. at 3.)

         In Defendant's view, “the only evidence against [him] relates to his being observed driving a 2004 maroon Chevrolet Avalanche from Yuma, Arizona in the direction of Denver, Colorado on April 3, 2017.” (Doc. # 172 at 3.) Defendant asserts that investigators were surveilling his vehicle as he was driving it north based on “intercepted electronic communications” between certain codefendants that he did not participate in and that did not mention him. (Id.) Investigators requested that the Colorado State Patrol contact and question the driver of the maroon Chevrolet Avalanche, and the Colorado State Patrol followed Defendant to Trinidad, Colorado, where his car broke down. (Id.) The patrol officers seized Defendant's car and towed it to a secure location and detained and questioned Defendant. (Id.) Investigators later obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and then discovered “approximately twenty-five packages of methamphetamine concealed in a secret compartment on the underside of the vehicle.” (Id. at 4.)

         B. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The federal grand jury indicted Defendant and his codefendants on May 2, 2018, as the Court already explained. (Doc. # 1.) Defendant was arrested on May 10, 2018, in California and made his initial appearance before the District Court for the Southern District of California on the same day. (Doc. # 102.)

         This Court declared the case complex as to the defendants who were then represented by counsel pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3161(h)(7)(A) and (B)(ii) on May 24, 2018.[1] (Doc. # 108.) The Court simultaneously granted an ends of justice continuance of 150 days, which had the effect of resetting the earliest speedy trial date of the codefendants from July 24, 2018, to December 21, 2018. (Id. at 2.) Defendant was not among the represented defendants.

         On June 5, 2018, Defendant made his initial appearance before the District Court for the District of Colorado, entering a plea of not guilty but not contesting his continued detention. (Doc. # 123.) United States Magistrate Judge Scott Varholak appointed Defendant counsel (Doc. # 129) and committed Defendant to the custody of a correctional facility. (Doc. # 130 at 3.) He determined that Defendant failed to rebut the presumption that no condition or combination of conditions would reasonably assure Defendant's appearance and the safety of the community. (Id.)

         On June 13, 2018, the Government filed a Motion for a Designation of Complexity and an Ends of Justice Exclusion from the Speedy Trial Calendar as to Defendant and three codefendants who had also made their initial appearances and been appointed counsel after the Court first designated the case complex and granted an ends of justice exclusion on May 24, 2018. (Doc. # 158.) The Government asked that the Court again designate the complex, exclude 150 days from July 24, 2018, and find that the new speedy trial date for Defendant and these three codefendants is December 21, 2018. (Id. at 7.) Defendant filed a written response that he did not object to the Government's Motion for a Designation of Complexity and an Ends of Justice Exclusion from the Speedy Trial Calendar on the next day. (Doc. # 164.)

         The Court granted the Government's Motion for a Designation of Complexity and an Ends of Justice Exclusion from the Speedy Trial Calendar on June 18, 2018. (Doc. # 165.) The Court affirmed as to Defendant and these three codefendants its previous May 24, 2018 Order finding the case complex, granting an ends of justice continuance, and determining that the speedy trial date is December 21, 2018. (Id.)

         On June 19, 2018, Defendant filed the instant Motion for a Separate Trial. (Doc. # 172.) The Government failed to timely file a response by July 10, 2018, and on August 1, 2018, this Court ordered the Government to respond by August 2, 2018. (Doc. # 207.) The Government filed its Response on August 2, 2018. (Doc. # 212.) Defendant replied in support of his Motion for a Separate Trial on August 3, 2018. (Doc. # 218.) Defendant also filed a Motion to Suppress Direct and Derivative ...


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.