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United States v. Figueroa

March 19, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOSE FIGUEROA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rufe, J.

MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

The Indictment in the above-captioned case charges Defendant Jose Figueroa ("Defendant" or "Figueroa") with conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, as codified in 21 U.S.C. § 846, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), respectively.*fn1 Defendant filed the instant Motion to Suppress all physical evidence recovered in connection with his arrests on June 28, 2008 and July 30, 2008 and any statements made by Defendant.*fn2 Upon consideration of Defendant's Motion, the Government's Response*fn3 , and an evidentiary hearing and oral argument held thereon,*fn4 the Court enters the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Prior to June 28, 2008, Vice Detective Randy Fey ("Fey"), along with his law enforcement colleagues, were investigating allegations of criminal activities of the Latin King gang in the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania.*fn5 Fey was informed that Figueroa, a/k/a King Vega, was a member of the Latin Kings who was involved in drug dealing.*fn6

2. On June 28, 2008, Fey received information from a reliable confidential informant that Figueroa, Thomas Chrin ("Chrin"), and Raul Clements ("Clements") were making deliveries and picking up drugs in Allentown.*fn7 The informant told law enforcement that the three men would be using a black Subaru*fn8 and would be stopping at a location in the 100 block of South Blank Street.*fn9

3. Fey found the black Subaru at the address given to him by the informant sometime after nightfall on June 28th, between the approximate hours of 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.*fn10 He observed three individuals, whom he recognized as Figueroa, Chrin, and Clements,*fn11 exiting the Subaru and entering the South Blank Street location.*fn12 They stayed inside for 20 to 30 minutes.*fn13 Fey (driving an unmarked car*fn14 ) called for additional units.*fn15

4. The three suspects left the Blank Street location, reentered the black Subaru, and drove away from the Blank Street address.*fn16 Fey and other law enforcement vehicles were unable to follow them, as they drove evasively through alleyways in an attempt to evade surveillance.*fn17

5. Knowing that Figueroa lived on 14th Street, Fey and the other officers drove to that location, where they again observed the black Subaru.*fn18 Fey estimates that five to ten minutes passed between losing sight of the Subaru and encountering it again at Figueroa's residence.*fn19

6. The Subaru pulled into the parking lot across the street from Figueroa's house.*fn20 Figueroa exited the car and ran inside.*fn21

8. Figueroa returned to the car, and the three men drove off at approximately 40 to 50 miles per hour down an alleyway, exceeding the posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour.*fn22

9. Fey called for the marked police units to make a vehicle stop of the Subaru.*fn23 Despite evasive driving, the units were able to make the stop on Turner Street.*fn24

10. Fey pulled his unmarked car 40 to 50 feet behind the Subaru and the marked units; he wanted to keep his distance to maintain his cover.*fn25 The officers approached the driver and asked for license and registration information, as well as identification from each passenger of the car.*fn26 Fey received a radio transmission that Figueroa had provided two ID cards with separate identities.*fn27

11. Fey watched the officers remove Figueroa from the vehicle and pat him down, discovering a large bag of marijuana on his person.*fn28 The officers then handcuffed Figueroa's hands behind his back and placed him in the back of a patrol unit.*fn29

12. Sitting in the back of the patrol unit, Figueroa pulled a large plastic bag of cocaine from his pants (which had been hidden somewhere in the vicinity of his anal cavity) and attempted to eat it.*fn30 Seeing the commotion, officers at the scene tried to pull Figueroa out of the cruiser and a struggle ensued, creating a dust cloud of cocaine.*fn31 When Fey noticed the struggle, he decided to get involved in the traffic stop.*fn32

13. Police ripped the bag out of Figueroa's mouth, but he had already eaten most of the cocaine.*fn33 Figueroa became sweaty, being affected by the drugs, and police later took him to the hospital for treatment.*fn34 At the hospital, an ...


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