Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Robertson

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

September 19, 2019

United States of America,
v.
Kawuan J. Robertson, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & RECOMMENDATION

          Robert T. Numbers, II, United States Magistrate Judge.

         A 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.

         I. Background

         In Fall 2017, the Tar River Regional Task Force began to investigate alleged drug trafficking by Cory Boose.[1] 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.

         Shortly 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.[2] 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.

         Shamsuddine 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.

         Shortly 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. at 33:13-18.

         McGlockland 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.

         Eventually, 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.

         Eventually, 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.

         In the 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.

         In 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.”[3] 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.

         McGlockland 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.

         But 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 Shamsuddine. Id.

         During 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.

         A 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.

         Around 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.

         McGlockland 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.

         DEA 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.

         Later, 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.

         At 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 60:19-20.

         Bryant 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.

         In Bryant's training and experience, drug traffickers often rent cars to transport drugs. Tr. at 62:25-63:8. No one could produce ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.