FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS Hon. Rya W. Zobel, U.S. District Judge.
Thomas Kerner for appellant.
J. D'Addio, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom
William D. Weinreb, Acting United States Attorney, was on
brief, for appellee.
Torruella, Selya and Lynch, Circuit Judges.
sometimes depends on taking full advantage of fortuitous
occurrences. In this case, the federal Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA), while engaged in an investigation of a
suspected drug-trafficking operation, stumbled across a
second (more substantial) drug-trafficking operation. Much of
the evidence concerning this second operation was unearthed
following a warrantless entry by DEA agents into an apartment
that, as matters turned out, served as a stash house for the
second drug-trafficking operation. In the ensuing prosecution
of a participant in the second drug-trafficking operation,
the district court found that probable cause, combined with
exigent circumstances, justified the warrantless entry. At
trial, the jury convicted.
with laser-like intensity on the warrantless entry and its
aftermath, the appellant now presses this single-issue
appeal. He argues that the district court erred in its
determination that the warrantless entry was lawful and,
therefore, in denying his motion to suppress a trove of
incriminating evidence. After careful consideration, we
uphold the denial of the appellant's motion to suppress
and affirm the judgment below.
reviewing the denial of a motion to suppress, we take the
facts as the trial court found them, consistent with record
support, see United States v.
Romain, 393 F.3d 63, 66 (1st Cir. 2004), adding
uncontradicted facts where appropriate. In the summer of
2013, DEA agents, working with state and local police
officers, were investigating a drug-trafficking ring based in
Lawrence, Massachusetts. During the course of this
investigation, the agents intercepted telephone calls between
two persons (the targets) thought to be part of the ring.
Through these intercepted calls, the agents learned that the
targets were planning to rob a quondam associate, one
José Medina-López (Medina), whom the targets
had reason to believe was receiving bulk drug shipments on a
targets hatched a plot that contemplated attaching a GPS unit
to Medina's car in the hope that it would lead them to
his cache of drugs and cash. The agents decided that it was
time for them to act. They began by canvassing the streets in
search of Medina's car. On the morning of July 26, 2013,
they hit the jackpot: they observed Medina leaving a
multi-family residential building on Cedar Street, carrying a
large trash bag that was so heavy that he needed both hands
to lift it. He hoisted the trash bag into his car and drove
agents followed Medina and - with the aid of state and local
police - pulled him over after they had observed him
committing traffic infractions. When the agents reached his
car window, Medina was trembling and appeared to be very
nervous. The agents questioned him about where he had come
from and where he was heading, and Medina provided answers
the agents knew to be false.
point, the agents asked Medina for permission to search his
car. Medina acquiesced. Preliminary to the search, Medina got
out of the car and, as he disembarked, the agents spotted a
large wad of cash sticking out of his pants pocket. They
seized the cash and arrested Medina for his participation in
the March heroin transaction.
agents then proceeded to search the car. In the trash bag
that Medina had lugged from the building on Cedar Street,
they found more than $370, 000 in cash. They discovered more
cash within the car, stashed in a box and various bags. When
questioned, Medina offered no credible explanation for the
oceans of cash (all of which the agents seized).
on by what they had discovered, the agents returned to the
building on Cedar Street. Once there, they encountered the
landlord, who confirmed that Medina rented the second-floor
apartment. At that juncture, the agents could have stopped
their ongoing investigation and sought a search warrant for
the apartment. Instead, they went to that apartment and
knocked on the front door. A voice from within the apartment
responded, "Hello, who is it?" The agents announced
their presence and immediately heard the sound of someone
inside running away, that is, toward the back of the
apartment. The front door was sealed over, so the agents
moved to a side door. Concerned that the occupant was either
trying to escape or destroy evidence, the agents broke down
the side door and forcibly entered the premises. Once ...