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United States v. Cruz-Hernandez

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 18, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JORGE CRUZ-HERNANDEZ, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon the [40] renewed motion of Defendant Jorge Cruz-Hernandez to revoke his pretrial detention orders and release him pursuant to a bed to bed transfer for residential substance abuse treatment and/or pursuant to the High Intensity Supervision Program with GPS monitoring. Defendant made his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey on November 30, 2018 and was ordered to be held in temporary detention for three days. On December 4, 2018, Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather ordered that Defendant's detention be extended and that he be held without bond pending trial. She later issued a Memorandum setting forth her written findings of fact and statement of reasons for the detention. Defendant filed his first motion for revocation of his pretrial detention on December 12, 2018, which the Court denied on December 17, 2018. And, on October 30, 2019, Defendant filed a renewed request for revocation of his pretrial detention to which the Government filed an opposition. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions, case law, and applicable statutory authority, the Court shall DENY Defendant's motion for the reasons expressed below.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This Court denied a prior motion for revocation of Defendant's pretrial detention on December 17, 2018. ECF No. 14. And, Defendant points to no factual changes since that denial which would alter the Court's decision. As such, much of this Memorandum Opinion restates the facts and reasoning laid out in the Court's prior decision.

         Defendant has been charged with unlawfully, knowingly, and intentionally possessing with the intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance, methamphetamine, in the amount of fifty grams or more. 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(viii). Superseding Indictment, ECF No. 8.

         According to the Government, on September 21, 2018, security officers at a UPS store in Tempe, Arizona contacted police about a suspicious package which they believed contained methamphetamines. Store employees had become suspicious of the package based on the behavior of the shipper, later identified as Defendant, who had sweated, avoided eye contact, stuttered, and paid with a pre-paid card.

         Police investigated the approximately four-pound package, which had an odor consistent with and field-tested positive for methamphetamine. The shipping label identified the sender as “Jesse Cruz” with a telephone number of (202) 677-0282 and the recipient as “Steve Silantra” with the same telephone number and a delivery address of 5120 Sargent Rd., NE, # 209 in Washington, D.C. Law enforcement traced the single telephone number to Defendant; the telephone number also listed the Sargent Road address as its registered address. Law enforcement later verified the Sargent Road address as Defendant's address.

         Further connecting Defendant to the package, a UPS store employee identified Defendant as the shipper from a photo lineup. Additionally, surveillance from a nearby store shows an individual resembling Defendant purchasing the same type of prepaid card that was used to pay for shipping at the UPS store. While an employee of the store failed to identify Defendant as the purchaser of the prepaid card, Defendant's cellphone records show that he placed a call to customer service for the company which issued the prepaid card when the card was purchased. Finally, on September 24, 2018, a man by the name of “Jorge Hernandez” called UPS to inquire about the package. The phone number and email which “Jorge Hernandez” provided were both verified as belonging to Defendant.

         On October 23, 2018, agents for the Metropolitan Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at the Sargent Road address. When officers knocked, Defendant answered the door. In a bedroom with identifying materials belonging to Defendant, agents found: packaging materials; two digital scales; a package of approximately 51 grams of methamphetamines, which later tested positive for methamphetamines with a high 98% purity level; a package of approximately 179 grams of methamphetamines, which later tested positive for methamphetamines with a high 96% purity level; 1.5 gallons of Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid; and a safe containing $16, 000.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court reviews de novo whether there are conditions of release that will “reasonably assure the appearance of Defendant as required and the safety of any other person and the community.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e). Because Defendant has been indicted for an offense for which a maximum term of imprisonment for life is prescribed in the Controlled Substances Act, there is a rebuttable presumption that no conditions or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person and the safety of the community. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3)(A). To determine whether Defendant has overcome this presumption, the Court examines the available information that touches upon: (1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense is a crime of violence or involves a narcotic drug; (2) the weight of the evidence against the defendant; (3) the history and characteristics of the defendant; and (4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g). The Court determines that the factors weigh in favor of Defendant remaining incarcerated.

         III. BALANCE OF THE FACTORS

         Defendant has several arguments as to why he has rebutted the presumption that no set of conditions will reasonably assure the safety of the community. First, Defendant argues that he has been detained and presumed to have not used illicit drugs for approximately twelve months. Defendant further explains that evaluations by a federal medical facility and by the District of Columbia Pretrial Services Agency have found Defendant to be in need of substance abuse treatment. Second, Defendant contends that discovery has produced credible evidence that there was an additional occupant of the apartment in which the drugs and drug paraphernalia were allegedly found. Third, Defendant explains that his family is supportive of his efforts at recovery and that he does not have a valid passport or driver's license. In considering Defendant's arguments, the Court finds that Defendant has not presented any evidence or argument which meaningfully changes the Court's analysis from its prior denial of revocation. The Court further concludes that Defendant has not rebutted the presumption that there are no conditions or combinations of conditions of release that will reasonably assure the safety of the community.

         A. Nature and Circumstances of ...


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