United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
MEMORANDUM & RECOMMENDATION
T. Numbers, II, United States Magistrate Judge.
federal grand jury has charged Defendant Kawuan J. Robertson
with being involved in a drug conspiracy. Robertson now
claims that law enforcement officers violated the Fourth
Amendment when they obtained some of the evidence the
Government hopes to use against him to prove that charge. He
claims that on the night of his arrest officers detained him
without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and then
arrested him without probable cause to believe he had
committed a crime. Robertson asks the court to suppress all
evidence gathered as a result of his detention and arrest. He
also argues that the court should hold a Franks
hearing and ultimately suppress evidence obtained from his
apartment because, he maintains, an officer left material
information out of the warrant application that, if included,
would have defeated probable cause. After considering the
parties' arguments, the undersigned recommends that the
court deny Robertson's motions because no Fourth
Amendment violations occurred.
2017, the Tar River Regional Task Force began to investigate
alleged drug trafficking by Cory Boose. Tr. at 28:7-14,
29:4-15. The Task Force received information that Boose
distributed illegal drugs from his home at 1381 East Old
Spring Hope Road in Nashville, North Carolina. Tr. at
29:9-11. Officers observed cars arrive at this residence,
stay for a brief period, and then leave. Tr. at 29:12-23.
Based on their training and experience, this activity
suggested to officers that Boose sold drugs from his home.
Tr. at 29:21-30:2.
after their investigation began, a confidential informant
told officers that Boose obtained bricks of heroin from two
individuals in New Jersey. Tr. at 30:17-24. One supplier went
by the alias of Doob and the other went by the alias of Fell.
Tr. at 30:24-25. Investigators learned that Fell's actual
name was Shamsuddine Green. Tr. at 31:3-11. The confidential
informant confirmed that Shamsuddine was the person he knew
as Fell. Tr. at 31:12-17. Investigators also confirmed that
the confidential source was texting with Shamsuddine about
drug transactions. Tr. at 32:1-6.
eventually agreed to sell the confidential informant multiple
bricks of heroin. Tr. at 32:7-11. Although Shamsuddine would
not say exactly when they would arrive, he promised that he
would come to Nashville with the drugs. Tr. at 32:12-17.
after Shamsuddine agreed to sell the heroin to the
confidential informant, officers began tracking his cell
phone's location. Tr. at 32:25-33:1, 34:17-22. They did
this by monitoring the cell towers the phone connected to.
Id. Investigators noticed that after spending
several days in New Jersey it began moving south on November
11, 2017. Tr. at 33:2-12. Officers believed that this meant
that Shamsuddine was travelling south on I-95 from New Jersey
to North Carolina with the heroin. Tr. at 33:10-12. Several
law enforcement officers, including Captain Kevin
McGlockland, began surveillance on I-95 in Virginia and North
Carolina to attempt to find Shamsuddine and the heroin. Tr.
received notice when Shamsuddine passed cell phone towers and
he provided that information to other officers who would then
be on the lookout for him. Tr. at 34:17- 22. Officers knew of
one vehicle associated with Shamsuddine but given that, in
McGlockland's experience, drug traffickers often use
multiple cars to move narcotics, he also looked for other
suspicious vehicles. Tr. at 34:1-16.
McGlockland received notice that Shamsuddine's phone was
several miles past him on the highway. Tr. at 35:4-15. In
other words, he had missed the car that contained
Shamsuddine's cell phone. Id. So McGlockland
began driving on the highway looking for suspicious vehicles.
Id. At that time, about 1:00 a.m., McGlockland
encountered little traffic on the highway. Id.
he came upon a Ford Taurus with a New Jersey license plate.
Tr. at 35:16-19. A fellow officer ran the Taurus's
license plate through a database, and told McGlockland that
Tiffany Howard, an associate of Shamsuddine's, owned the
car. Tr. at 35:23-36:9. Based on the vehicle's
association with Shamsuddine, McGlockland suspected it was
involved with transporting narcotics from New Jersey to North
Carolina. Tr. at 36:10-12. The Taurus got off of I-95 and
headed toward 1381 East Old Spring Hope Road in Nashville.
Tr. at 36:13-21. McGlockland and another officer, Captain
Wilson, continued to follow the Taurus until around 1:15
a.m., when Wilson pulled the Taurus over because of a traffic
violation. Tr. at 36:22-37:16.
Taurus officers found Kadija Smith, the driver; Michael
Green, seated in the passenger seat; and Smith's teenage
daughter, seated in the rear of the car. Tr. at 38:1-9.
Wilson asked Smith for her license and the vehicle's
registration. Tr. at 38:14-18. Smith produced her license and
Michael began searching, unsuccessfully, in the glove
compartment for the vehicle's registration. Id.
response to questioning by McGlockland, Michael said that his
nephew, Shamsuddine, and Howard owned the Taurus. Tr. at
38:19-23. Then, without prompting, Michael called someone on
his cell phone, let the other person know that law
enforcement had pulled them over, and asked where he could
find the car's registration. Tr. at 38:24-39:2.
McGlockland asked Michael who he called, and he responded
with a name that sounded like
“Kwan.” Id. Given the unprompted nature
of Michael's call and the fact that McGlockland already
knew that Kwan was not the name of the car's registered
owner, he became concerned that Michael was trying to alert
others involved in the transport of narcotics that officers
had stopped the car. Tr. at 39:3-19. Despite the call,
Michael could not find the registration. Tr. at 39:20-21.
then asked Michael if he knew where Shamsuddine was at that
time. Tr. at 40:3-8. Michael told him that Shamsuddine was in
New Jersey. Id. Michael later told McGlockland that
he was headed to meet his friend Cory at 1381 East Old Spring
Hope Road. Tr. at 40:22-41:7.
when McGlockland talked with Smith, she gave him a different
story. Tr. at 40:9-14. According to Smith, they were headed
to an address in Nashville, known by Michael, to meet
the traffic stop, McGlockland learned that Shamsuddine's
cell phone was not in the Taurus. Tr. at 40:15-21. Based on
all of the information available to him, McGlockland believed
that more than one vehicle was involved in transporting
heroin from New Jersey to North Carolina. Tr. at 48:18-21.
drug-detecting dog eventually conducted an open-air sniff
outside the vehicle. Tr. at 42:13-20. The dog alerted on the
Taurus's passenger-side front door. Id. After
being allowed into the car, the dog again alerted on the
glove compartment. Id. at 42:21-24.
the same time the dog alerted on the glove compartment,
Sergeant Jason Bryant, who was working on the Boose
investigation and present at the traffic stop, received a
call from a confidential source. The source told him
Shamsuddine was currently in the driveway of Boose's
house at 1381 East Old Spring Hope Road in Nashville. Tr. at
43:3-13, 58:19-24. Bryant and a number other officers left
the traffic stop to go to Boose's home. Tr. at 44:10-13.
kept inspecting the Taurus and saw new welding under the dash
board. Tr. at 44:14-20. McGlockland believed the welding to
be consistent with someone installing a hidden compartment in
the car. Id.
Task Force Officer Phil Lewis, who was also searching the
car, located a crack in the dashboard. Tr. at 44:21-45:2.
Officers shined their flashlights into the crack and saw a
brick wrapped up in magazine covers and newspaper along with
individual baggies tied up with rubber bands. Tr. at 51:2-13.
Based on his experience, McGlockland believed that the
packaging matched the way that drug traffickers typically
packaged heroin. Id. McGlockland immediately alerted
Bryant about this discovery. Tr. at 45:7-13.
McGlockland had the Taurus moved to a local garage where they
would try to open the hidden compartment containing the
suspected narcotics. Tr. at 51:19-52:21.
about 1:20 a.m., Sergeant Bryant arrived at the East Old
Spring Hope Road residence with five other officers. Tr. at
59:11-23. The house, located in a rural area, was completely
dark and it appeared that no one was home. Tr. at 59:11-17.
Bryant saw a pewter-colored minivan with a Pennsylvania
license plate parked half way down the driveway. Tr. at
60:12-18. Three men were sitting inside the vehicle. Tr. at
eventually learned that Robertson was in the driver's
seat; Rachine Green was in the passenger seat, and
Shamsuddine sat behind them. Tr. at 60:24-61:4. Officers also
learned that the minivan was a rental car. Tr. at 62:17-24.
Bryant's training and experience, drug traffickers often
rent cars to transport drugs. Tr. at 62:25-63:8. No one could