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United States v. Rodriguez

January 2, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harold Baer, Jr., District Judge



Lorenzo Rodriguez, Jose Cirrasquillo, Demi Abriham, Bryant de los Santos, and Pedro Cabrera ("Defendants") are charged in a two-count Indictment handed up on October 3, 2007*fn1 and which charges conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951, and Title 21 United States Code, Sections 812, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A), and 846. Defendants de los Santos, Abriham and Cabrera have filed several pre-trial motions in which Defendant Rodriguez joined.*fn2

Defendants move to suppress their post-arrest statements arguing that they were made in violation of their Fifth Amendment rights either because the Defendants were questioned before Miranda waivers were secured or because the Defendants did not in fact understand the waivers as presented to them. Defendants also move to suppress their statements and dismiss the Indictment on the basis that the police lacked probable cause to arrest them. Third, Defendants move to dismiss the Indictment because the police conduct was so outrageous that it violated the Defendants' rights under the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

A Suppression Hearing was held on November 19, 2007 to argue the admissibility of the post-arrest statements and included argument on the probable cause and outrageous conduct issues. For the reasons set forth below, all the motions are DENIED.


A. Factual Background

1. The Robbery

The Indictment alleges that over the period June 7, 2007 through July 27, 2007, the Defendants conspired to commit the robbery of a cocaine dealer with approximately 25 kilograms of cocaine. The scheme came about through the good offices of a confidential informant ("CI"), who it is alleged had previously given law enforcement reliable information and told the agents about a group of individuals with whom he had committed robberies in the past. Complaint ¶ 3 ["Compl."]. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives ("ATF") and NYPD Joint Firearms Taskforce worked with the CI to stage a robbery with this group. See id. ¶¶ 2-5.

On June 7, 2007, the CI contacted "the leader of the group," Defendant Rodriguez, to discuss a potential robbery of a large quantity of cocaine. Compl. ¶ 4. The CI contacted Rodriguez via monitored and recorded telephone calls over the next several weeks to discuss stealing the cocaine and to introduce Rodriguez to the ATF undercover special agent ("UC") and the person with the information on the location of the cocaine. Compl. ¶ 5. After contacting Rodriguez on several occasions to discuss logistics, the UC met with Rodriguez and Jose Cirrasquillo in his hotel room on June 26, 2007. Compl. ¶¶ 5-7. The UC explained that he was a drug courier for Colombian dealers, but was upset about the non-payment for the regular hauls of about 25-30 kilograms he had made on their behalf and wanted to rob them as pay-back. Compl. ¶ 7a. Rodriguez and Cirrasquillo agreed to participate. Compl. ¶ 7a.

The three planned the robbery for the following day. Compl. ¶ 7d. During the meeting UC explained that three individuals would be inside the location and at least one would be armed. Compl. ¶ 7d. Rodriguez and Cirrasquillo discussed how they would enter the site, restrain the individuals, the approximate number of people they would recruit to do the job, and the split of the cocaine. Compl. ¶7e-h. That night, Rodriguez contacted the UC in a recorded phone call to inform him that his team was ready, but that the split of the loot was inadequate, since the five to six participants would only receive approximately 5 kilograms of cocaine.

Letter-Brief in Opp. To Mot. to Suppress and Dismiss Indictment, Nov. 12, 2007, Exhibit C, Transcript Tape Recorded Phone Conversation June 26, 2007 at 2; see also Compl. ¶8. The UC and Rodriguez agreed to resolve the split the following day. Id.; Compl. ¶ 8.

On June 27, 2007, the UC told Rodriguez to bring his team to a gas station in the Bronx to meet before the robbery. Compl. ¶ 9. Rather than arriving with his team, Rodriguez arrived alone and said the others were driving around. Compl. ¶ 9. Despite some hesitation, Rodriguez agreed to get the rest of the team and proceed with the robbery. Id. ¶¶ 9-10. Rather than arrive altogether, Rodriguez returned alone again fifteen minutes later, and told the UC that the team was ready to be picked up at another location. Id. The UC drove Rodriguez one or two blocks away, Rodriguez got out of the UC's car and entered another car driven by Cirrasquillo. Compl. ¶ 11. Cirrasquillo pulled over and told the UC to wait. Id. Two minutes later, Cirrasquillo pulled into the street and a Range Rover pulled in behind Cirrasquillo. Compl. ¶ 11. Cirrasquillo signaled to the UC to go ahead to the site. Id. The UC drove to a storage facility with Cirrasquillo and Rodriguez following in one car and the Range Rover following behind them. Id. The UC drove into the storage facility and Cirrasquillo and the Range Rover parked outside. Compl. ¶ 12. The UC then drove back outside to pick up Rodriguez and enter the facility to pick up the van for the job. Id. Cirrasquillo and the individuals in the Range Rover remained in their cars outside. Id. JTF agents arrested everyone at the scene: Rodriguez and Cirrasquillo as well as everyone in the Range Rover.*fn3 Id.

2. The Arrest and Miranda Warnings

Detective Shanhai, one of the arresting officers, transported the Defendants to the ATF station in Brooklyn at approximately 4:00 p.m. on June 27th. See Hearing Transcript at 7 ("Tr."). He then separated the Defendants and began fingerprinting and taking "pedigree" information from each in turn, during which time ...

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