United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge
Leudy Enrique Rodriguez Mojica (“defendant”) has
been indicted on 1) one count of alien unlawfully present in
the United States in possession of a firearm and ammunition,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5)(A), and 2) one
count of false representation of a Social Security account
number, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 408(a)(7)(B). The
indictment also includes a criminal forfeiture allegation.
before the Court is defendant's motion to suppress
evidence obtained during a Terry stop of the vehicle
he was driving on March 23, 2016. For the reasons that
follow, the motion will be denied.
January, 2016, Special Agent Dana Fiandeca, of the United
States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(“ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations
(“HSI”), received information from a confidential
source (“CS”) about a Dominican male named
“Leudy” who was unlawfully present in the United
States and was involved in the drug trade in Lawrence,
Massachusetts. According to the CS, “Leudy”
assumed an alias using Puerto Rican documents and drove a
gold-colored Toyota Avalon without a driver's license.
The CS also provided Leudy's cell phone number. Two
months later, in March, 2016, the CS provided Special Agent
Fiandeca a license plate number for the Avalon and informed
him that “Leudy” possessed a handgun.
March 23, 2016, Special Agent Fiandeca was in an unmarked
vehicle with two FBI special agents and an ICE deportation
officer (collectively, “the agents”) in Lawrence,
Massachusetts. The agents spotted the gold Avalon near
Broadway and Bradford streets. Although they could not follow
the vehicle, they later located it in a parking lot near a
basketball court in the Essex Street projects. At that point,
the federal agents contacted Detective John Heggarty of the
Lawrence Police Department and after he arrived, the agents
collectively decided to approach the vehicle.
asked the five occupants in the vehicle to show their hands.
The three passengers in the back seat, including a known gang
member, complied with the agents' orders. The front seat
passenger was hesitant but ultimately complied. The driver,
later determined to be the defendant, did not comply with the
agents' order to show his hands. As a result, one of the
agents attempted to open the driver-side door. Just before he
did so, another agent noticed a firearm on defendant's
lap and yelled “gun”. Subsequently, all occupants
of the vehicle were removed and handcuffed. The agents then
did a sweep of the Avalon and they discovered a Puerto Rican
birth certificate and a Social Security number for
“Ocasio Ramos, ” defendant's alias. Defendant
was ultimately arrested and charged with several weapons and
2016, a grand jury indicted defendant in this case. In
January, 2017, defendant moved to suppress the evidence from
the Terry stop and the ensuing search that occurred
on March 23, 2016.
Motion to Suppress
seeks to suppress all fruits of the search. According to
defendant, the evidence should be suppressed because the CS
relied upon by investigators was not sufficiently reliable
and, therefore, the police lacked reasonable suspicion to
conduct a Terry stop. The government responds that
the informant had provided reliable information in the past
and thus gave the police enough information to meet the
reasonable suspicion standard.
without probable cause to make an arrest, police officers may
conduct a brief investigatory stop for the purposes of crime
prevention and detection. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1,
22 (1968). Such encounters are justified if the officer has
“reasonable, articulable suspicion that criminal
activity is afoot.” United States v. Romain,
393 F.3d 63, 71 (1st Cir. 2004). In making a
reasonable-suspicion determination, a court
must look at the totality of the circumstances . . . to see
whether the detaining officer has a particularized and
objective basis for suspecting legal wrongdoing . . . .
[O]fficers [may] draw on their own experience and specialized
training to make inferences from and deductions about the
cumulative information available to them.
United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 273 (2002)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Although an
officer must rely on more than a hunch, the likelihood of
criminal activity “need not rise to the ...