United States District Court, D. New Jersey
WILLIAM J. MARTINI. U.S.D.J.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Puente
Trujillo's ("Defendant") motion to suppress
certain evidence. ECF No. 11
("Motion"). For the reasons set forth below, the
Motion is DENIED.
was arrested at a gas station on November 1, 2018. Just prior
to his arrest, an undercover police officer received a text
message containing a picture of Defendant, a description of
where he would be waiting, and other information useful for
identification. Armed with that information, Arresting
Officers approached the truck in which Defendant was waiting
("Truck"). They instructed him to exit the Truck
and asked for permission to conduct a search. Defendant
declined to permit a search but did say something regarding
"not caring" whether he "goes to jail"
(hereinafter, "First Statement").
Arresting Officers then moved Defendant away from the Truck
and brought a drug-sniffing dog to the scene. The dog alerted
both outside the Truck and in the cab. The Arresting Officers
then searched the Truck and eventually located eleven
packages within a door panel appearing to contain a
there was some disagreement over the exact order of events,
after the packages were found, Defendant was placed under
arrest and mirandized. Either immediately before or after
being arrested, Defendant was told or overheard that drugs
were found in the Truck. The Arresting Officers were
consistent that after hearing about the drugs and being
mirandized, Defendant said something like "I
didn't think you would find them" ("Second
Defendant was transported to a Drug Enforcement Agency
("DEA") office for questioning and processing.
Either on the way or before departing the scene, Defendant
began offering to cooperate with the government (hereinafter,
"Third Statement"). Once at the DEA office, he also
informed officers that a cartel boss nicknamed "El
Mencho" had a $100, 000 bounty on all DEA agents'
heads ("Fourth Statement").
interview room at the DEA office, in a recorded conversation,
Defendant can be heard and seen confirming his understanding
of another Miranda warning read to him in Spanish.
Gov. Hearing. Ex. 4. He also signed an acknowledgement form
confirming the same. Gov. Hearing. Ex. 3. Defendant then made
further disclosures to the questioning officers ("Fifth
moves to suppress the Statements (1) as fruit of the
poisonous tree; and (2) because he did not knowingly and
voluntarily waive his Miranda rights.
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
argues that the Arresting Officers failed to obtain a warrant
before searching the Truck, and thus all resulting evidence
should be suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree. He
further argues the automobile exception does not apply
because the Government had time to obtain a warrant before
searching the Truck. Defendant's counsel conceded that
the Arresting Officers acted with probable cause in
conducting the search.
counsel's concession that the Arresting Officers had
probable cause ends the inquiry. Under the "automobile
exception," when the police have probable cause to
believe that a vehicle contains contraband, they need not
obtain a warrant before searching the vehicle. Maryland
v. Dyson, 527 U.S. 465, 467 (1999). "The automobile
exception has no separate exigency requirement."
Id. at 466 (cleaned up). In any event, the Arresting
Officers credibly testified that they searched the Truck
shortly after receiving confirmation of Defendant's
appearance and whereabouts. Thus, even accepting
Defendant's view of the automobile exception, the
Arresting Officers acted with deliberate speed to avoid the
automobile exception applies to the search of the Truck, the
Statements were not "fruit of the poisonous tree,"
and thus ...