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United States v. Benitez-Lopez

United States District Court, D. Colorado

July 11, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
6. MICHAEL BENITEZ-LOPEZ, Defendant.

          ORDER

          PHILIP A. BRIMMER, CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on defendant Michael Benitez-Lopez' Motion to Suppress Results of Wiretap on Target Telephone Seven [Docket No. 143]. The United States has filed a response. See Docket No. 185. Defendant Benitez-Lopez asks the Court to suppress the evidence gathered from the wiretap of the telephone that the government has designated as Target Telephone Seven (“TT-7”) based upon the claim that the government's application and affidavit supporting issuance of the wiretap failed to satisfy the necessity requirement. Docket No. 143 at 2.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 12, 2018, a grand jury returned the indictment in this case charging defendant Benitez-Lopez and twelve other defendants with twenty-five counts connected to drug trafficking activities. This indictment is one of five indictments stemming from a long-term investigation into several cocaine trafficking organizations operating in the Denver metro area. The overall investigation, referred to as “Operation VIP Line, ” began in July 2015 and ended in March 2018. Docket No. 185 at 1.

         Between January 2015 and June 2015, the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force (“NCDTF”) conducted a wiretap investigation of the “Acosta” cocaine trafficking organization. NCDTF Investigator Kristie Allen was lead investigator assigned to the Acosta case. Id. at 2.

         In April 2017, the DEA's Denver Division Strike Force Group (“Denver SFG”) initiated the first wiretap as part of Operation VIP Line by targeting a telephone (hereinafter “TT-1”) used by Armando Talamantes. During the period April 2017 through January 2018, Denver SFG continued to apply for wiretaps and intercept communications in connection with drug traffickers associated with Armando Talamantes. The wiretaps focused on the Talamantes portion of Operation VIP Line were as follows:

• On April 28, 2017, the Denver SFG applied for and received authorization to intercept a telephone used by Armando Talamantes (“TT-1”);
• On May 15, 2017, the Denver SFG applied for and received authorization to intercept a telephone used by the defendant (hereinafter “TT-2”);
• On June 9, 2017, the Denver SFG applied for and received authorization to continue interception on TT-2 used by the defendant;
• On July 20, 2017, the Denver SFG applied for and received authorization for a second continuation of interception on TT-2 used by the defendant;
• On August 23, 2017, the Denver SFG applied for and received authorization to intercept a telephone used by the defendant (hereinafter “TT-7”); and a telephone used by Armando Talamantes (hereinafter “TT-8”);
• On September 22, 2017, the Denver SFG applied for and received authorization to continue interception of communications on TT-7 used by the defendant and TT-8 used by Talamantes.

         Docket No. 185 at 5.

         II. ...


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