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United States v. Soto-Camargo

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 19, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
NICHOLAS SOTO-CAMARGO, JR., and BRYAN WURTZ, JR., Defendants. No. 14-cr-40133-DDC

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DANIEL D. CRABTREE, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on two motions to suppress filed by defendant Nicholas Soto-Camargo, Jr., and two motions to suppress filed by defendant Bryan Wurtz, Jr. On April 29, 2015, Mr. Soto-Camargo filed a Motion to Suppress Intercepted Conversations and Evidence Obtained Therefrom (Doc. 42) and a Motion to Suppress Wiretap Lacking Necessity and Evidence Obtained Therefrom (Doc. 43) in Case No. 14-40129. That same day, Mr. Wurtz filed two identically titled motions (Docs. 20, 22) in Case No. 14-40133.

Both defendants argue that the Court must suppress intercepted cell phone communications, and all evidence derived from those communications, for two reasons. First, defendants contend that the orders authorizing wiretaps on phones used by Mr. Soto-Camargo and his father were facially invalid.[1] Second, defendants argue that the wiretap on TT4 lacked the requisite necessity under 18 U.S.C. ยง 2518 because the government did not pursue, or explain why it did not pursue, two traditional investigative techniques. The government has filed responses opposing all four motions filed by the defendants (Docs. 46, 48 in Case No. 14-40129; Docs. 23, 24 in Case No. 14-40133). And the Court conducted hearings on the motions on June 1, 2015. Having reviewed the facts and arguments presented by the parties, the Court denies both defendants' motions for the reasons explained below.

I. Background

Mr. Soto-Camargo is charged with conspiring to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute, use of a communication device to facilitate that conspiracy, actual possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. See Doc. 25 in Case No. 14-40129. Mr. Wurtz is charged with conspiring with Mr. Soto-Camargo and others to possess methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it. See Doc.

1 in Case No. 14-40133.

In December 2012, the Topeka Police Department began to investigate Mr. Soto-Camargo for his involvement with the Sur-13 street gang and the distribution of methamphetamine in Topeka, Kansas. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA"), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF"), and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation ("KBI") eventually joined the investigation. As part of that investigation, the government obtained wiretaps on three cell phones. Upon application by the government, this Court issued an order on July 25, 2014. It authorized the government to intercept communications from TT4. On September 2, 2014, the Court issued an order approving a wiretap on TT8. And on October 1, 2014, the Court authorized the government to intercept communications from TT11. All three wiretap orders provided, in relevant part:

Minimization of calls and texts intercepted over [the Target Telephone] will automatically take place in the Eastern District of Missouri, regardless of the location where the telephone calls are placed. Accordingly, all calls and texts will first be heard in the Eastern District of Missouri. Based on the mobility of cellular telephones, in the event the Target Telephone leaves the territorial jurisdiction of this Court, it is hereby ordered that interceptions may continue without interruption.

E.g., Doc. 42-1 at 9 in Case No. 14-40129; Doc. 22-1 at 9 in Case No. 14-40133.

According to the government, the intercepted communications from TT4 and TT11 revealed, among other things, that Mr. Soto-Camargo had distributed methamphetamine to several individuals in Topeka, including Mr. Wurtz. See Doc. 43-4 at 7 in Case No. 14-40129; Doc. 20-3 at 7 in Case No. 14-40133. The government also contends that communications intercepted between TT4 and TT8 show that Mr. Soto-Camargo supplied his father, Mr. Soto-Arreola, with methamphetamine for resale in Topeka. See Doc. 43-4 at 8 in Case No. 14-40129; Doc. 20-3 at 8 in Case No. 14-40133. Based in part on this information, the government conducted searches of several homes, including those occupied by Mr. Soto-Camargo and Mr. Wurtz, on October 28, 2014. During those searches, law enforcement seized evidence and arrested both defendants.

II. Analysis

The two suppression motions filed by Mr. Soto-Camargo are nearly identical to those filed by Mr. Wurtz. Because they share the same factual basis and request the same relief, the Court, below, addresses both defendants' motions together.

A. Motions to Suppress Intercepted Communications and Evidence Obtained Therefrom

Defendants argue that the Court must suppress all intercepted communications from TT4, TT8, and TT11, and all evidence derived from those communications, because the orders authorizing the wiretaps were facially invalid. Defendants contend that the orders improperly permitted law enforcement to continue monitoring the target phones while both the phone and listening post were outside of the Court's jurisdiction. As a result, they argue that the Court ...


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