United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Petitioner's
Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence under 28
U.S.C. § 2255, (Doc. No. 1), and on the Government's
Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. No. 5).
Petitioner participates in a lucrative, eight-year
in 2004, pro se Petitioner Jorge Molina-Sanchez (referred to
hereinafter as “Petitioner” or
“Jorge”) and his brother, Juan Molina-Sanchez
(“Juan”), began trafficking large quantities of
cocaine. (Crim. No. 3:12cr316-FDW-DSC-2, Doc. No. 60 at 22:
Trial Tr.). The brothers got started through their cousin,
Jose Luis Molina, and their uncle, who was their cocaine
supplier. (Id. at 22-23). Jorge and Juan initially
received two kilograms of cocaine that was transported from
California to Salisbury, North Carolina, in a Ford Taurus
with a secret compartment. (Id. at 23, 35). The
first two kilograms were “fronted” to the
brothers, who paid for it after distributing it, at which
time their cousin and uncle made another delivery, this time
of four kilograms. (Id. at 23-24). For the first
year, Jorge and Juan received bi-monthly shipments of four
kilograms of cocaine, with their uncle and cousin taking
turns delivering the cocaine in the Taurus with the hidden
compartment. (Id. at 24). Beginning in 2005, Jorge
and Juan doubled the amount of cocaine they received to eight
kilograms per shipment and moved to a car with a bigger
hidden compartment. (Id. at 25). They still received
shipments every other month, and they eventually paid in cash
for their cocaine. (Id. at 25, 27). They continued
to transport the cocaine from California in automobiles with
secret compartments, including a Toyota Camry, an Infinity
I-30, a Chevrolet Malibu, and a BMW. (Id., Doc. No.
59 at 167; Doc. No. 60 at 43, 52).
receiving a shipment, Jorge and Juan sold the cocaine to
their customers. (Id., Doc. No. 60 at 25-26). A
couple of customers bought kilogram-quantities; others bought
ounces and quarter ounces. (Id. at 26). In terms of
the working relationship between Jorge and Juan, they were
equal partners in the business, but each brother would
“work a few months, then he would be done working and
then it would be [the other brother's] turn to
work.” (Id. at 29-30). The brothers shared the
same customers, and when it was Jorge's turn to
“work, ” he was solely responsible for
transporting and distributing the cocaine. (Id. at
29-30). Each brother kept the profit he made during the
shipments and distributions he was responsible for,
“sav[ing] it, spend[ing] it, invest[ing] it in other
things.” (Id. at 30). Both brothers used
profits to buy cars. (Id., Doc. No. 59 at 201; Doc.
No. 60 at 31).
Allen, the brothers' biggest customer in their first two
years, began buying cocaine from Juan in 2004 and from Jorge
in early 2005. (Id., Doc. No. 59 at 145-46).
Initially, when he met Jorge, he bought four-and-a-half
ounces from him for $3, 500. (Id. at 147-48).
Thereafter, he dealt with both Jorge and Juan regularly,
describing the brothers as equal partners in the business.
(Id. at 147-48, 182). By late 2005, Allen was buying
nine ounces of cocaine every two or three weeks from Jorge
and Juan. (Id. at 149). This quantity increased to
half a kilogram per transaction in 2006 and to kilogram
quantities in 2007, peaking at four kilograms per
transaction. (Id. at 149-52, 175). As long as Jorge
and Juan had a supply, Allen continued to buy cocaine from
them every two or three weeks, selling the cocaine he bought
to customers. (Id. at 150). One of Allen's
customers was Matt Jones, who in turn sold cocaine at
Freightliner in Statesville, North Carolina, where he worked.
(Id. at 154; see also id. at 176). Although
Allen did not keep up with how many kilograms of cocaine he
bought over the time he dealt with the brothers, he estimated
that he bought a total of between 50 and 100 kilograms of
cocaine. (Id. at 152-53).
2007 or 2008, Jorge and Juan also began dealing with
“Anthony, ” another customer who eventually
bought three or four kilograms at a time. (Id., Doc.
No. 60 at 26-27). By 2009, the brothers were sending their
own couriers to California to get cocaine, and they were
buying 11 kilograms of cocaine every other month.
(Id. at 28-29). On each 11-kilogram shipment, Jorge
and Juan would profit approximately $80, 000. (Id.
at 34-35). Jorge and Juan's sister, Susan Molina, and
Juan's then-girlfriend, Sulay Lopez, worked as couriers
for the brothers, traveling together six to eight times a
year to California and driving back with 11 kilograms of
cocaine in hidden compartments. (Id. at 35-37).
Jorge bought a kilogram of heroin as part of the last
shipment he received, intending to distribute it to Allen.
(Id. at 38-39, 42, 54).
February 2011, Lopez and Susan Molina were pulled over in
Utah on their way back to North Carolina, and 11 kilograms of
cocaine were seized from a hidden compartment in the car they
were traveling in. (Id., Doc. No. 1 at 3; Doc. No.
60 at 37). A month later, law-enforcement officers conducting
surveillance observed Juan enter a storage unit in Salisbury,
North Carolina. (Id., Doc. No. 1 at 3; Doc. No. 48
at 30). In a later warrant-supported search of the storage
unit, officers found approximately $30, 000 in cash inside an
Infinity I-30 registered to Juan. (Id., Doc. No. 1
at 3; Doc. No. 60 at 27-29, 32; Doc. No. 59 at 20).
2011, law enforcement officers stopped a Chevrolet Tahoe in
which Jorge was the driver and Juan was the passenger.
(Id., Doc. No. 1 at 4; Doc. No. 59 at 57, 62).
Although a drug detection dog alerted to the presence of
controlled substances on the driver's-door seam, officers
were not able to find controlled substances, though they did
find handcuffs, binoculars, and a tactical holster.
(Id., Doc. No. 1 at 4; Doc. No. 59 at 58-59, 63-64).
Spring of 2011, Jorge offered to sell Allen heroin, an offer
Allen declined because he “didn't know [anyone who]
was interested in it.” (Id., Doc. No. 59 at
158-59). According to Allen, Jorge had what appeared to be a
kilogram of heroin. (Id. at 160). Also in the spring
of 2011, Jorge and Juan left the area, and Jorge called
Allen, telling him that he did not know when he was coming
back but that he had a new supplier out of town.
(Id. at 158-59).
months later, having tracked the Infinity I-30 to the home of
Joel Santibanez, the brothers' cousin, in Salisbury,
law-enforcement officers conducted a knock-and-talk at the
home and spoke with Santibanez. (Id., Doc. No. 1 at
4; Doc. No. 58 at 34). Santibanez permitted the search of
certain areas but not an outbuilding or the Infinity I-30.
(Id., Doc. No. 1 at 4; Doc. No. 58 at 35-36). While
at the home, Special Agent William Elmore with Homeland
Security Investigations recognized a pair of brand-new
commercial lawnmowers and lawnmower trailers that he had
previously seen Jorge working on at his home one evening
while under surveillance. (Id. at 37, 40). At the
time of the search, the lawnmowers had only 15-30 hours of
use logged on them. (Id., Doc. No. 1 at 4; Doc. No.
58 at 35, 40-41). Santibanez reported to the officers that he
worked with Jorge mowing lawns. (Id., Doc. No. 1 at
4). Also while at the home, agents searched a Chevrolet
Malibu, registered to Jorge's wife, Yuritzi Alejandres,
and located in a parking area beside the lawn equipment.
(Id., Doc. No. 58 at 38-39). Inside the Malibu
officers found paperwork with Jorge's and Juan's
names. (Id., Doc. No. 58 at 45-48; Doc. No. 59 at
that same day, officers obtained a search warrant for the
outbuilding and the Infinity I-30 inside the outbuilding.
(Id., Doc. No. 1 at 5; Doc. No. 58 at 37). A search
of the car yielded a hidden compartment in which the officers
found more than $138, 000 in cash, three kilograms of
cocaine, and one kilogram of heroin. (Id., Doc. No.
1 at 5; Doc. No. 58 at 38, 41-44; Doc. No. 59 at 133, 135).
The officers also found documents in the car in both
Jorge's and Juan's names. (Id., Doc. No. 1
at 5). In addition to the car, officers found more brand-new
lawn equipment inside the outbuilding. (Id., Doc.
No. 58 at 41).
August 2011, officers searched the home Jorge shared with his
wife Alejandres in Salisbury. (Id., Doc. No. 59 at
78-79, 88). No. one was home when the search took place, and
although the downstairs area of the house was well kept, it
appeared that items had been removed “in a hurry”
from the upstairs bedrooms. (Id. at 80-81). Officers
found a tactical holster, mail addressed to Juan, a business
card and flyer for a landscaping business identifying Jorge
and Juan as the owners of the business, and a notebook
containing Juan's name and “Salt Lake City, ”
and “70.” (Id. at 81, 84-87, 89).
later, Allen was arrested after buying two kilograms of
cocaine in a transaction set up by investigating officers.
(Id. at 99-100, 161, 175-77). At the time of
Allen's arrest, the Chevrolet Tahoe that he bought from
Jorge was parked at his house. (Id. at 100-01).
Following his arrest, Allen began working with the
investigators and recorded conversations with Jorge and Juan.
(Id. at 100, 103-04, 107-08, 163; Doc. No. 60 at
October 2011, Allen traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, meeting
with Juan before traveling toward California where they
planned to pick up cocaine. (Id., Doc. No. 59 at
141-42, 168-70, 172; Doc. No. 60 at 46-47, 49). Law
enforcement officers who were monitoring Allen's
conversations with Juan arrested Juan as he and Allen
traveled west from Las Vegas on Interstate 15 ...