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United States v. Williams

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

October 16, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHASE WILLIAMS, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT CHASE WILLIAMS' MOTION TO SUPPRESS (ECF NO. 21)

          HELEN GILLMOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant Chase Williams moves to suppress evidence seized from a United States Postal Service Priority Mail Express Parcel. Defendant Williams also seeks to suppress evidence found pursuant to a search warrant of his residence following his detention.

         Defendant Williams makes three arguments.

         First, Defendant contends that Postal Inspectors lacked reasonable suspicion to detain the Subject Parcel.

         Second, Defendant argues that the Subject Parcel was retained for an unreasonable length of time.

         Third, Defendant claims that the search of his residence is “tainted derivative evidence” that should be suppressed pursuant to the exclusionary rule.

         The Court finds that Defendant Williams does not have standing to challenge the search and seizure of the Subject Parcel, because he was neither the sender nor the addressee of the parcel.

         Even if Defendant did have standing, the evidence is not subject to suppression because there was no Fourth Amendment violation. Postal Inspectors had reasonable suspicion to detain the Subject Parcel, and the Subject Parcel's retention was for a reasonable length of time.

         The search of Defendant's residence did not rely upon the fruit of an unlawful search or seizure.

         Defendant Chase Williams' Motion to Suppress (ECF No. 21) is DENIED.

         INDICTMENT

         Defendant Williams is charged in the Indictment filed on June 27, 2018 (ECF No. 13) as follows:

Count I for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), and 846;
Count II for attempting to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), and 846; and,
Count III for possession with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C).

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 14, 2018, a criminal complaint was filed against Defendant. (ECF No. 2).

         On June 27, 2018, the grand jury returned the three-count Indictment against Defendant. (ECF No. 13).

         On June 28, 2018, Defendant pled not guilty to Counts 1-3 of the Indictment. (ECF No. 18).

         On August 28, 2018, Defendant filed DEFENDANT WILLIAMS' MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE. (ECF No. 21).

         On September 10, 2018, the Government filed UNITED STATES' RESPONSE IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE. (ECF No. 23).

         On September 17, 2018, the Government filed its WITNESS LIST and EXHIBIT LIST. (ECF Nos. 24, 25).

         On September 18, 2018, the Court held a hearing on Defendant's Motion to Suppress. (ECF No. 28). The Court found Defendant Williams had no basis for an expectation of privacy in the parcel and therefore lacked standing to challenge the detention and search of the parcel.

         At the hearing, the Parties stipulated and agreed to the facts as stated in the Government's three exhibits in order to allow the Court to reach Defendant's Fourth Amendment challenges to the detention and search of the Subject Parcel. (Id.)

         BACKGROUND

         On Thursday, June 7, 2018, United States Postal Inspector Trevor Covert, along with other law enforcement officers, conducted an outbound interdiction at the West Sacramento Processing & Distribution Center in California. (Affidavit of Postal Inspector Brian W. Shaughnessy at ¶ 7, attached to the Application for Search Warrant, as Government Exhibit 2). They identified the Subject Parcel as appearing suspicious.

         The Subject Parcel was addressed in handwriting to “Anne Langorio, 572 Kaiola Pl, Kihei, HI 96753.” (Subject Parcel Shipping Label, Government Ex. 1). The handwritten return address was “Jennifer Sanchez, 8847 Mandalay Way, Elk Grove, CA 95624.” (Id.)

         Inspector Covert contacted United States Postal Inspector Brian W. Shaughnessy in Honolulu and immediately mailed the Subject Parcel to him. (Shaughnessy Affidavit at ¶¶ 11-12, Government Exhibit 2)).

         Inspector Shaughnessy took possession of the Subject Parcel on Saturday. A canine narcotics detector was not available until Monday. On Monday, canine narcotics detector “Alan” alerted to the presence of the odor of a controlled substance in the Parcel. (Id. at ¶ 16).

         Based on the alert, Inspector Shaughnessy applied for and obtained a federal search warrant to search the Parcel. Inspector Shaughnessy executed the search warrant and found cocaine in the Parcel.

         Federal agents then applied for and obtained a second federal search warrant to install a beeper and tracking device in the Parcel. (Affidavit of Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Erik W. Klapmeier at ¶¶ 5-7, attached to the Criminal Complaint, Government Exhibit 3).

         The Subject Parcel was transferred from the island of Oahu to the island of Maui. A controlled delivery of the Parcel was attempted. The residence was unoccupied. (Id. at ¶ 8). The Postal Inspector left a notice of delivery at the residence.

         Later that same afternoon, a postal employee received a telephone call from an unknown male who asked that the parcel be redelivered. (Id.) A second attempt at a controlled delivery of the Parcel was made immediately that afternoon. (Id.)

         During the second controlled delivery, a man, later identified as Eduard Rivera, drove up to the residence. (Id. at ¶ 10). Eduard Rivera accepted the Parcel from the undercover Postal Inspector who stated that it was for “Anne Langorio.” (Id.) Rivera said, “no, it is for my brother.” (Id.) Rivera took possession of the Parcel and took it into the residence. (Id.)

         The beeper then emitted a rapid tone, indicating the Subject Parcel was opened. Agents approached the residence, and Rivera was detained in the doorway. (Id.) The agents tracking the beeper knocked and announced “police” and proceeded through the apartment. While in the residence, the agents observed that pieces of packaging from the Subject Parcel were in the living room of the residence. Agents then discovered an internal stairwell from the upstairs residence directly to the ground level where they observed a screened-in window that was pushed out from the inside. (Id.)

         Agents were searching the surrounding area when a neighbor advised them that an unknown male had jumped the fence from the residence. (Id. at ¶ 12). The male was later positively identified by the neighbor as Defendant Williams. (Id.) Agents observed Defendant Williams two blocks away from the residence. He was detained without incident. (Id. at ¶ 13).

         Federal agents applied for and obtained a third search warrant for Defendant Williams' residence. (Id. at ΒΆ 17; Mag. No. 18-00629RLP). A search of the residence resulted in officers seizing 86.8 gross grams of cocaine, 406.8 gross grams of marijuana, and paraphernalia including packaging ...


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