United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Owens (“Owens”) was indicted on multiple counts
of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to
distribute, as well as possession of a firearm in furtherance
of a drug crime and being a felon in possession of
ammunition. Presently pending before the Court is Owens's
Motion to Suppress evidence discovered by police in locked
safes within a residence during the execution of a search
warrant. [ECF No. 44]. The United States filed an opposition
to this motion. [ECF No. 59]. For the reasons discussed
below, the Court DENIES the Motion to Suppress [ECF
spring of 2016, police officers in the MetroWest Drug Task
Force (“Task Force”) conducted an investigation
into the illegal distribution of narcotics in and around
Framingham, Massachusetts. [ECF No. 44-1]. During this
investigation, Owens allegedly sold cocaine to Task Force
officers during a series of controlled buys. Id.
Based on their investigation, Task Force Officers came to
believe that Owens resided at 611 Arboretum Way, Canton,
Massachusetts. Id. On April 29, 2016, the officers
obtained a search warrant for the premises of 611 Arboretum
Way, which was an apartment within Building 6 of Arboretum
Way. [ECF No. 44-2]. Owens does not challenge the validity of
that warrant in his Motion to Suppress. The search warrant
authorized the Task Force officers to search the 611
Arboretum Way apartment for the presence of “[c]ocaine,
a controlled substance as defined in MGL 94C, cocaine
paraphernalia, money or evidence of money, including money
utilized by law enforcement to purchase cocaine, books,
notes, papers, records related to cocaine sales, and
purchases, or showing occupancy, this includes any
information in electronic form.” Id.
in the Task Force searched the 611 Arboretum Way apartment on
April 29, 2016. [ECF No. 44-3 at 4]. At the apartment, Erica
Edwards, a woman believed to be Owens's girlfriend and
the mother of his children, identified a back bedroom as
Owens's. Id. In that bedroom, officers found
many items bearing Owens' name as well as drugs.
Id. The officers also discovered three locked safes.
Id. at 5. The safes were pried open. Id.
The officers discovered $1, 860 in cash, $200 of which were
official funds that had been supplied by the Canton Police to
purchase crack cocaine and given to Owens during the April
25, 2016 undercover drug sale, and a loaded (10 rounds) Smith
& Wesson 9mm hand gun, a black holster, another holster,
and several rounds of multiple caliber ammunition in the
safes. Owens now moves under the Fourth Amendment to suppress
the items found in the locked safes. [ECF No. 44].
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states in
The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches
and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall
issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be
searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
U.S. Const. amend. IV; see also United States v.
Lyons, 740 F.3d 702, 724 (1st Cir. 2014). “A
lawful search of fixed premises generally extends to the
entire area in which the object of the search may be found,
and is not limited by the possibility that separate acts of
entry or opening may be required to complete the
search.” United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798,
820-21 (1982). “Thus, a warrant that authorizes an
officer to search a home for illegal weapons also provides
authority to open closets, chests, drawers, and containers in
which the weapon might be found.” Id. at 821.
a general proposition, any container situated within
residential premises which are the subject of a
validly-issued warrant may be searched if it is reasonable to
believe that the container could conceal items of the kind
portrayed in the warrant.” United States v.
Gray, 814 F.2d 49, 51 (1st Cir. 1987); see also
United States v. Peake, 804 F.3d 81, 87 (1st Cir. 2015).
“In determining whether it is reasonable to search a
particular container for an object, ‘search warrants
and affidavits should be considered in a common sense manner,
and hypertechnical readings should be avoided.'”
United States v. Rogers, 521 F.3d 5, 10 (1st Cir.
2008) (quoting United States v. Bonner, 808 F.2d
864, 868 (1st Cir. 1986)). There is no exception for locked
containers. See United States v. Towne, 705
F.Supp.2d 125, 134 (D. Mass. 2010) (“Any unlocked or
locked container on the premises that could reasonably
conceal an item described in the warrant may be opened and
it was reasonable to believe that items named in the search
warrant-drugs, money, and records-could be stored in safes
located in Owens's bedroom. Thus, the police searching
Owens's bedroom had the authority to pry open the safes
they found there. Since the police had a warrant that allowed
the entire apartment to be searched, they could lawfully
search for evidence in any container, locked or unlocked,
found on those premises that could have reasonably held the
evidence they were authorized to look for. Their search did
not exceed the scope of the search warrant. As such, this
Court finds no reason to suppress the evidence discovered
within the safes.
Owens is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing on this
motion because he has not made “a sufficient threshold
showing that material facts are in doubt or dispute, and that
such facts cannot reliably be resolved on a paper
record.” United States v. Staula, 80 F.3d 596,
603 (1st Cir. 1996).
reasons stated above, this Court hereby DENIES