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United States v. Mott-Frye

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

April 26, 2017



          Patti B. Saris Chief United States District Judge


         Defendant Aaron Mott-Frye, charged with drug trafficking on Cape Cod, moves to suppress evidence seized by the government during a car stop. He claims he was illegally stopped, detained, and searched in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. A hearing was held. Three witnesses testified at the hearing on behalf of the government: John Hayes, Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Matthew Blondin, police officer with the Barnstable Police Department; and Matthew O'Brien, police officer with the Sandwich Police Deparment. Mott-Frye's Motion to Suppress (Docket No. 348) is DENIED.


         I. The Investigation

         State and federal authorities began an investigation into drug trafficking activity on Cape Cod in early 2015. Based on intercepted cell phone calls and controlled purchases of heroin and cocaine, law enforcement officials concluded that three individuals -- Christopher Wilkins, Christian Chapman, and Denzel Chisholm -- were the leaders of a Cape Cod based drug trafficking organization (DTO). The DTO distributed large quantities of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl to lower-level drug dealers throughout the Cape Cod area.

         Investigators observed Defendant interacting with members of the alleged DTO and learned that Defendant was communicating with members of the DTO by phone. During the time of the court-authorized wiretaps, primarily between August 2015 and April 2016, there were 426 contacts between Defendant and other members of the DTO. The government believed that Defendant was a potential source of narcotics for the DTO.

         On October 22, 2015, Defendant exchanged text messages with Chapman, and shortly thereafter, at approximately 5:48 p.m., officers observed Defendant arrive at Chapman's house in Yarmouth. About three minutes after arriving, Defendant and Chapman left the residence in Defendant's car. Defendant dropped off Chapman at 18 Bodfish Place in Hyannis, MA, a residence maintained by Chapman as a drug stash house for the DTO. During this same time, an unindicted co-conspirator texted Chapman asking for cocaine (“white”). After Chapman arrived at 18 Bodfish place, Chapman sent him a text stating “at spot.” The officers then observed the unindicted co-conspirator arrive at 18 Bodfish Place.

         On November 4, 2015, investigators were conducting surveillance of Chapman when they observed Defendant pickup Chapman and drive to 21 Seabrook Road in Hyannis, the home of a known gang member. Investigators believed this to be a location used by members of the DTO, especially Chapman, to sell drugs.

         On December 5, 2015, Defendant met Chapman at United Barbershop in New Bedford, MA. Based on surveillance conducted in this investigation and information learned in previous investigations, the government believed that someone at United Barbershop was a source of supply. Defendant drove Chapman back to Chapman's house at 2 Roberta Drive where they parked on the street at approximately 9:44 p.m. Then, via video surveillance, investigators observed Defendant hold up and pass a knotted bag containing “something white” to Chapman, which they believed contained narcotics. After the exchange, Chapman went inside his house and Defendant went back to Wareham.

         On January 26, 2016, investigators intercepted a phone call between Wilkins and Defendant in which they were arranging a sale of 500 grams of cocaine. The government had conducted a number of controlled buys from Wilkins. After a string of text messages discussing the deal, investigators then observed Defendant arrive at Wilkins' house, stay for a short period of time, and leave. Approximately two hours later investigators observed Chisholm, whom they believed to be the purchaser of the drugs, arrive at Wilkins' house. Investigators believed Wilkins was acting as a middle man for the sale between Defendant and Chisholm.

         Based on the observation of Defendant's activities on January 26, 2016, Magistrate Judge Judith Dean found probable cause to believe that Defendant was engaged in drug trafficking and on February 2, 2016, Judge Dein issued a tracking warrant for Defendant's vehicle and a “ping” warrant for Defendant's telephone.

         Between the end of January and the beginning of March 2016, Defendant was not picked up on any of the wiretaps or observed interacting with the DTO. The government learned that during this period of silence Defendant was out of the country in Egypt for about three to five weeks.

         II. ...

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