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United States v. Santiago-Pagan

April 23, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CARLOS SANTIAGO-PAGAN, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the court is defendant Carlos Santiago-Pagan's motion (Doc. 103) for bail pending trial. The court held a detention hearing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142 on March 26, 2009,*fn1 after which defendant filed a supplemental brief (Doc. 139) in support of the motion. Both parties also submitted post-hearing evidentiary exhibits. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

I. Findings of Fact*fn2

On November 19, 2008, a grand jury returned a three-count indictment charging defendant and four co-conspirators with (1) criminal conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine hydrochloride and marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; (2) intentional and knowing distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine hydrochloride and marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); and (3) criminal forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C) and 21 U.S.C. § 853. (See Doc. 1.) A superseding indictment was returned on December 10, 2008, which amended each of the original counts to charge defendant with distribution, possession with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to distribute fifty or more grams of cocaine base. (See Doc. 31.) On January 7, 2009, defendant entered a plea of not guilty to the superseding indictment. (See Doc. 61.) The United States magistrate judge then ordered defendant to be detained pending trial.*fn3 (See Doc. 67.)

Defendant was arrested on August 23, 2008 near Greensboro, North Carolina after local law enforcement officers conducted a search of his vehicle and discovered approximately one kilogram of cocaine. (See Hr'g Ex. 2.) This search was preceded by several weeks of telephonic and visual surveillance, the former of which was conducted pursuant to a court-authorized wiretap. (See Hr'g Ex. 3.) The sum of the government's evidence demonstrates that throughout August 2008, defendant frequently used telephones to arrange for the purchase and resale of narcotics. Accordingly, the court will reproduce a sampling of the conversations-spoken largely in code-that ultimately led to defendant's arrest, the seizure of cocaine from his vehicle, and his eventual indictment.*fn4

On August 14, defendant received a telephone call from an individual named Santana, who advised that he "still h[ad] that girl." (Gov't Ex. Tab M at 2.) The following conversation then transpired:

PAGAN: How much?

SANTANA: There are four (4) left.

PAGAN: Four (4)?

SANTANA: There are four (4) left.

PAGAN: How much?

SANTANA: At seven fifty (7.50).

PAGAN: Oh, that's expensive! . . . Give me two (2) if you can, or you can't?

SANTANA: Just two (2)?

PAGAN: At least two (2). . . .

SANTANA: Okay . . . I'm on my way there. (Id.)

The following day, an individual named Julio contacted defendant. They proceeded to discuss an impending transaction:

JULIO: Do you have food or what?

PAGAN: Yes.

JULIO: And how is it?

PAGAN: At about eighty (80).

JULIO: How much?

PAGAN: You mean how much for it?

JULIO: Yes.

PAGAN: Forty-eight (48).

JULIO: But how . . . how is it? Like what you had before?

PAGAN: Yes, dude.

JULIO: Like what you had ...


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