United States District Court, D. Maine
DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
E. Walker United States District Judge
December 13, 2018, Rogelio Rios was indicted on one count of
“knowingly and intentionally possess[ing] with the
intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, a
Schedule II controlled substance, ” in violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(viii).
Indictment (ECF No. 21). Rios now moves to suppress evidence
gathered from the July 12, 2018 stop and search of his pickup
truck as well as all information obtained as a result of the
search. Mot. to Suppress (“Motion”) (ECF No. 35).
motion is DENIED.
parties do not contest the key facts. On July 11, 2018, the
Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (“MDEA”) received a
call from a confidential source indicating that a man named
Jared Fogg had rented Room 34 at the Briarwood Motor Inn in
Lincoln, Maine, and was there to sell illegal
drugs. Response, Ex. 1 ¶ 1 (ECF No. 36-1,
#72). This source did not indicate which type of drugs Fogg
was allegedly selling, but the source did notify the MDEA
that Fogg was joined by an “Indian” male and was
using a white Ford F250 pickup with Florida plates 578PMW.
Id. The source also told the MDEA agent that Fogg
was carrying a firearm. Id.
same day, the Lincoln Police Department received a complaint
from a co-conspirator who admitted to selling
“ice” or “crystal” methamphetamine
and heroin in the Lincoln area. Id. ¶ 9. This
co-conspirator informed police that he received his supply
from Fogg and provided details regarding when and where he
purchased drugs from Fogg. Id. That day, Lincoln
Police officers observed the co-conspirator and Fogg together
in the parking lot of the Briarwood Motor Inn. Id On
the morning of July 12, 2018, an MDEA agent observed a white
Ford F250 pickup with Florida registration matching the
confidential source's description at the Briarwood Motor
Inn. Id. Upon conducting a registration check on the
pickup, MDEA agents learned the truck was registered to two
men from Florida - one of whom was the Defendant, Rogelio
Rios. Id. ¶ 2. MDEA officers showed a picture
of Rios to the confidential source and the source confirmed
Rios looked like the man accompanying Fogg. Id.
had been linked to drug activity in northern Maine on
multiple occasions prior to the July 12, 2018 traffic stop.
On July 13, 2017, a cooperating defendant supplied MDEA with
information that Fogg commonly travelled from Florida to
Maine and would remain in Maine for 2-3 weeks at a time in
order to sell crystal meth. Id. ¶ 6. This
informant indicated they had seen “Fogg with a gallon
sized Ziploc bag full of crystal meth and a large amount of
money spread out on the bed.” Id. On March 16,
2018, another cooperating defendant stated Fogg was the
methamphetamine source for the Houlton area. Id.
¶ 7. On July 3, 2018, a third cooperating defendant
stated Fogg was one of the “big fish” in the
Houlton crystal methamphetamine trafficking market and
indicated that Fogg drove a “new Florida plated white
Ford pickup.” Id. ¶ 8. Two of the
cooperating defendants indicated that Fogg commonly rented a
hotel room for the purposes of selling drugs. Id.
¶¶ 6, 8.
on the reports from the three cooperating defendants as well
as the information provided by the confidential source, MDEA
obtained a state search warrant on July 12, 2018, for Room 34
and set up surveillance at the Briarwood Motor Inn.
Id. ¶ 10; Response, Ex. 2 (ECF No. 36-2).
Throughout the course of the day, officers observed Rios
driving the truck as he made various stops at Walmart, Circle
K, and the Daigle Oil Company. Response, Ex. 1 ¶¶
12-13 (ECF No. 36-1, #75). Officers then observed Rios pick
up Fogg from a residence in Houlton, after which Rios and
Fogg travelled to several residences and made multiple stops
at a local gas station. Id. ¶ 13. Rios and Fogg
then travelled to Mattawamkeag and stopped at a residence for
nearly an hour, during which time officers observed three
individuals outside the truck with the doors open,
“removing something from the vehicle.”
Id. ¶ 14. Fogg and Rios then returned to
Lincoln, stopped at the Lincoln Circle K, and ultimately
returned to the Briarwood Motor Inn. Id.
their arrival at the Briarwood Motor Inn, Lincoln Police
Officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle.
Id. ¶ 15. Officers searched Rios's white
Ford pickup and recovered various items including firearms
and illicit drugs. Response, 4 (ECF No. 36, #65).
makes two primary arguments in favor of his Motion to
Suppress. First, he contends that the search of his truck and
the resulting seizure of items and information
“violated his rights under the 4th and 14th amendments
to the United States Constitution and Article 1, § 5 of
the Maine Constitution” because the search warrant did
not describe the place to be searched - his truck - with
“requisite particularity.” Motion, 1 (ECF No. 35,
#57). Second, in response to the Government's
contentions, Rios asserts that the “automobile
exception” does not apply to the facts of this case and
cannot be used to justify the warrantless search of his
truck. Id. at 3. However, as explained below,
because law enforcement officers properly searched his
vehicle pursuant to the automobile exception to the warrant
requirement, the “requisite particularity” of the
search warrant is irrelevant and will not be considered for
purposes of this Motion to Suppress.
Fourth Amendment guarantees the “right of the people to
be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S.
Const. amend. IV. As a general rule, “searches
conducted outside the judicial process, without prior
approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable
under the Fourth Amendment - subject only to a few
specifically established and well-delineated
exceptions.” Katz v. United States, 389 U.S.
347, 357 (1967). One such exception is the “automobile
exception” which provides that “police officers
may seize and search an automobile prior to obtaining a
warrant where they have probable cause to believe that the
automobile contains contraband.” United States v.
Silva, 742 F.3d 1, 7 (1st Cir. 2014); see also
Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 693 (1996)
(“[A] warrantless search of a car is valid if based on
probable cause.”); United States v. Polanco,
634 F.3d 39, 42 (1st Cir. 2011) (“[T]he auto exception
. . . provides that ‘[i]f there is probable cause to
believe a vehicle contains evidence of criminal
activity,' agents can search without a warrant ‘any
area of the vehicle in which the evidence may be
found.'”) (quoting Arizona v. Gant, 556
U.S. 332, 347 (2009)).
cause to search a vehicle is present “where the known
facts and circumstances are sufficient to warrant a man of
reasonable prudence in the belief that contraband or evidence
of a crime will be found.” Ornelas, 517 U.S.
at 696 (citing Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S.
160, 175-176 (1949)). As stated by the First Circuit,
“[t]he standard is satisfied when the totality of the
circumstances create ‘a fair probability that . . .
evidence of a crime will be ...