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United States v. Garcia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 10, 2018




         This matter comes before the Court upon the application of the United States that Defendant, Dionisio Garcia, be detained pending trial pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142. Defendant is charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to import 500 grams or more of cocaine from a foreign country in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 963. The Court held a detention hearing on May 9, 2018. At the conclusion of that hearing and upon consideration of the proffers and arguments of counsel and the entire record herein, the Court ordered Defendant held without bond. This memorandum is submitted in compliance with the statutory obligation that “the judicial officer shall . . . include written findings of fact and a written statement of the reasons for the detention.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(i)(1).


         At the detention hearing, the United States proceeded by proffer based on the indictment. The defense offered no contrary evidence on the merits of the offense, but did provide, also by proffer, additional information about the history and characteristics of Defendant. Accordingly, the Court makes the following findings of fact.

         A. The Charged Offense

         On April 28, 2018, Customs and Border Patrol agents assigned to the Cincinnati facility of international shipping company DHL targeted a package sent from Colon, Panama, and addressed to “Dylan Boyce” at an apartment on Kansas Avenue in the northwestern quandrant of the District of Columbia. When agents opened the package, which, according to the shipping manifest, contained documents, they discovered approximately 962 grams of a white powdery substance that field-tested positive for cocaine.

         Thereafter, on the morning of May 2, 2018, officers from Homeland Security Investigations, working with other law enforcement, conducted a controlled delivery of the package (from which the drugs had been replaced by a similar sham product) to the Kansas Avenue address. When no one answered the door at either of the apartments at the address, an undercover officer placed on the door of the apartment to which the package had been addressed a DHL tag indicating an attempted delivery and including a contact number. Later that day, the undercover officer received a call about the package from a person sounding like a Hispanic male, and the officer arranged to redeliver the package to the Kansas Avenue address. When he returned to that residence, Defendant was waiting for him in front, signed for the package using the name “Dilan, ” and took the package into the apartment to which it had been addressed. Approximately one minute later, officers observed Defendant leave the apartment through the back door, place the package into the trunk of a burgundy Honda Accord, and return to the apartment.

         At approximately 3:30 p.m. that same day, law enforcement executed a search warrant at the apartment. After waiving his Miranda rights, Defendant admitted that he had received the package for another person who was supposed to pick the package up that evening. Defendant was to receive $500 for his help. Defendant admitted that he expected the package would contain something illegal, perhaps Ecstasy, and also that he had previously accepted a similar package for the same person and received $300 as payment. In a search incident to Defendant's arrest, law enforcement found $1, 185 in his pocket.

         B. Defendant's Characteristics and Criminal History

         Defendant has no prior criminal history. He is a legal resident of the United States who has lived in the D.C.-area for twenty-one years. He resides with his girlfriend of eight years in Maryland and has two sons in the area. Although he has not had steady employment for the past five months, Defendant asserts that prior to that he was gainfully employed for approximately twenty-one years, most recently serving as an auto mechanic at a single establishment for fifteen years.


         The Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3142 et seq., provides, in pertinent part, that if a judicial officer finds by clear and convincing evidence that “no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community, such judicial officer shall order the detention of the [defendant] before trial.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e). Thus, even if a defendant is not considered a flight risk, his or her danger to the community alone is sufficient reason to order pretrial detention, and vice versa. United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 755 (1987); United States v. Perry, 788 F.2d 100, 113 (3d Cir. 1986); United States v. Sazenski, 806 F.2d 846, 848 (8th Cir. 1986). Where the judicial officer's justification for detention is premised upon the safety of the community, the decision must be supported by “clear and convincing evidence.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2). Where the justification for detention is risk of flight, the decision must be supported by a preponderance of the evidence. See United States v. Simpkins, 826 F.2d 94, 96 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

         Section 3142 imposes a rebuttable presumption of dangerousness or flight risk on certain defendants based on the crimes with which they are charged, their prior convictions, or similar considerations. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(2), (3). For purposes of determining whether a rebuttable presumption is triggered, “[a] grand jury indictment, by itself, establishes probable cause to believe that a defendant committed the crime with which he is charged.” United States v. Stone, 608 F.3d 939, 945 (6th Cir. 2010); United States v. Smith, 79 F.3d 1208, 1210 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (“[T]he indictment alone would have been enough to raise the rebuttable presumption that no condition would reasonably assure the safety of the community.”). Here, Defendant was indicted under 21 U.S.C. § 963 for conspiracy to distribute at least 500 grams of cocaine, an offense for which the maximum term of imprisonment is more than ten years. This offense triggers the rebuttable presumption of section 3142(e)(3)(A), which provides that “[s]ubject to rebuttal by the person, it shall be presumed that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure [(1)] the appearance of the person as required and [(2)] the safety of the community if the judicial officer finds that there is probable cause to believe that the person committed . . . an offense for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed in the Controlled Substances Act.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3)(A).

         Once the rebuttable presumption is triggered, it “operate[s] at a minimum to impose a burden of production on the defendant to offer some credible evidence contrary to the statutory presumption.” See United States v. Alatishe, 768 F.2d 364, 371 (D.C. Cir. 1985). As this Court has emphasized, “[w]hile the burden of production may not be heavy, the applicable cases all speak in terms of a defendant's obligation to introduce ‘evidence.'” United States v. Lee, 195 F.Supp.3d 120, 125 (D.D.C. July 1, 2016) (citations omitted). Thus, the defendant must offer not mere speculation, but “at least some evidence, ” or basis to conclude that the presumption has been rebutted in his or her case. Stone, 608 F.3d at 945-46; Alatishe, 768 F.2d at 371; see also United States v. Taylor, 289 F.Supp.3d 55, 63 (D.D.C. 2018). Specifically, a defendant “should ‘present all the special features of his case' that take it outside ‘the congressional paradigm'” giving rise to the presumption. Stone, 608 F.3d at 946 (quoting United States v. Jessup, 757 F.2d 378, 387 (1st Cir. ...

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