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United States v. Gilchrist

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

August 1, 2013



KATHRYN H. VRATIL United States District Judge.

A grand jury charged Carlos Gilchrist and some 50 other defendants with conspiracy to manufacture, to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base and to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing cocaine. See Second Superseding Indictment (Doc. #402), Count 1. The grand jury also charged Gilchrist with three counts of distribution or possession with intent to distribute cocaine base. See id., Counts 36, 38, 39. This matter is before the Court on defendant’s Motion To Suppress Evidence (Doc. #764) filed June 10, 2013. On July 17, 2013, the Court held a hearing on the motion. For reasons stated below, the Court overrules defendant’s motion.

Factual Background

Based on testimony and exhibits received at the hearing, the Court finds the following facts: In October of 2010, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) initiated an investigation into the distribution of cocaine by an organization run by Djuane Sykes and his associates, a street gang in Kansas City, Kansas known as “Deuce Deuce.” Special Agent Nicholas Wills and Task Force Officer Eric Jones led the investigation which involved the interception of 43 cellular telephones, including multiple roving Title III intercepts on Hector Aguilera. Based on the initial intercepts of three of Sykes’s telephones, officers identified multiple layers of sources of cocaine which was being funneled by various means from Mexico to the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Before August 24, 2011, law enforcement had made numerous controlled purchases of “crack” cocaine from Sykes. In addition, agents had stopped numerous individuals after they had had recent contact with Sykes and found U.S. currency, “crack” cocaine and/or powder cocaine in their possession.

On August 24, 2011, at approximately 3:15 p.m., DEA personnel established surveillance of the 2200 block of Russell, to monitor drug activity in the area. Based upon GPS ping information, agents believed that Sykes was at or near the residence at 2258 Russell. Officer Jones saw individuals (later identified as Steven Easley and Maurice Deloney) arrive in a gold Chevy Malibu. Easley exited the vehicle, briefly met with a black male, appeared to conduct a hand-to-hand transaction with him, got back into the vehicle and drove away with Deloney. Agents followed Easley’s vehicle. Shortly thereafter, a police officer for Kansas City, Kansas stopped the vehicle and took Deloney into custody after observing a clear plastic bag containing .64 grams of “crack” cocaine sitting between his feet.

Shortly thereafter, agents observed a green Volkswagen Jetta stop in front of 2258 Russell, then park on the north side of Russell facing west. The Jetta belonged to Daniel Munoz-Rodriguez (a known source of supply for Sykes) and his brother Martin Munoz-Rodriguez was driving it. Agents observed Sykes walk to the passenger door of the Jetta with a red bag on his shoulder.[1] Sykes got into the vehicle. He exited a short time later with the red bag, then walked back toward 2258 Russell. The Jetta left the area.

A short time later, Officer Jones saw a green Cadillac pull in front of 2258 Russell. A black male, later identified as defendant, exited the front passenger door and walked toward 2258 Russell. After a few minutes, defendant walked back, got into the passenger side of the vehicle and left the area. Agents followed the Cadillac to 2008 N. 6th Street, Kansas City, Kansas, where it stopped. Defendant exited the vehicle and started to walk toward 2008 N. 6th, which was later determined to be his residence. Agent Wills and Tim McCue, a special agent with the DEA, approached defendant and identified themselves as police officers.

Agents asked defendant where he was coming from and he replied, “O’Reilly Autoparts.” McCue put his hands on defendant and started to turn him around to conduct a pat down search for weapons. As McCue did so, he asked defendant if there was anything on him that they needed to know about. Defendant responded that he had two ounces of cocaine in his pocket. Agents recovered a bag containing .65 grams of cocaine from defendant’s right front pants pocket and handcuffed him. Defendant and his wife, who was in the residence, consented to a search of the residence. During the search, Officer Jones found a set of digital scales in the top dresser drawer in the bedroom.

Defendant seeks to suppress his statement and the digital scales which officers recovered from his residence.


Defendant argues that (1) officers did not have reasonable suspicion that he was involved in criminal activity to justify an investigatory stop, (2) officers should not have conducted a pat down search because they did not have evidence that he was armed and (3) officers exceeded the scope of a pat down search for weapons when they asked a general exploratory question whether he had anything on him they needed to know about.

I. Investigatory Detention

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects persons and their houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. See U.S. Const. amend. IV. The Tenth Circuit has defined three categories of police/citizen encounters: (1) voluntary cooperation in response to non-coercive questioning; (2) investigatory; and (3) arrest. United States v. Muldrow, 19 F.3d 1332, 1335 (10th Cir.) (citing United States v. Cooper, 733 F.2d 1360, 1363 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 467 U.S. 1255 (1984)), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 862 (1994); see Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). This case involves the second category: an ...

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