United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
LAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Hector Lopez Palacios, is charged in a two-count indictment
for being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5) and § 924(a)(2),
and for illegal reentry after having been deported subsequent
to a felony-conviction in violation of 8 U.S.C. §
1326(a) and (b) (1) Pending before the court are
defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence (Docket Entry No.
17), Supplemental Motion to Suppress Evidence (Docket Entry
No. 22), and Second Supplemental Motion to Suppress Evidence
(Docket Entry No. 25). On May 24, 2017, the court held a
hearing on the defendant's motion and supplemental motion
to suppress. The government presented one witness, Officer
Jesus Medina, and both parties presented oral arguments. At
the end of the hearing the court took the two motions under
advisement and gave the parties until May 26, 2017, to submit
supplemental briefing. For the reasons stated below
defendant's motion, supplemental motion, and second
supplemental motion to suppress evidence will be denied.
February 27, 2017, defendant was arrested at 4005 Hollister,
Houston, Texas 77055. Glenn Miller, a private citizen,
detained defendant by placing him in handcuffs and holding
him for Houston Police Department ("HPD") officers
after hearing gunshots and seeing the defendant discharge a
weapon into the air. Miller placed the firearm out of the
defendant's reach until HPD officers arrived. When HPD
officers R. Munoz and A. Baker arrived they recovered and
inventoried the defendant's wallet, which contained an
expired driver's license and a Mexican passport. Officers
Munoz and Baker arrested the defendant for being a felon in
possession of a weapon. Neither Officer Munoz nor Officer
Baker gave the defendant warnings required by Miranda v.
Arizona, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (1966) .
the booking process at the Harris County Detention Center,
the defendant was interviewed by Enforcement and Removal
Operations ("E.R.O.") Officer Jesus Medina
("Medina"). Officer Medina did not give the
defendant Miranda warnings. Officer Medina
interviewed the defendant in Spanish by asking the defendant
questions about his identity and immigration status needed to
complete United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Form 1-213, Record of Deportable/Inadmissible Alien.
Defendant told Medina that he was born in Mexico, he is a
citizen of Mexico, he has not served in the United States
military, he has previously-been deported, did not fear
returning to Mexico, and did not want his consulate notified.
motion to suppress seeks to suppress
[a]ll incriminating evidence including the .357 Smith and
Wesson pistol, spent cartridges, and unused round; passport,
statements by Mr. PALACIOS LOPEZ to Houston Police Officers
as well as all evidence obtained by Deportation Officer Jesus
Medina including any written material, reports, or summaries
. . . .
Supplemental Motion to Suppress Evidence states that the
defendant "seeks to suppress all statements made to . .
. Office[r] Jesus Medina . . . [and] any written material,
reports, or summaries created by . . . Officer Jesus Medina
as a result of the interview with . . . Officer Jesus
Medina." At the May 24, 2017, hearing, defense
counsel stated that because defendant did not make any
statements to the arresting HPD officers, and because counsel
could find no law supporting defendant's request to
suppress physical evidence recovered at the scene of his
arrest (i.e., the pistol, spent cartridges, unused round, and
passport), the defendant was now seeking to suppress only
statements made to Medina and any reports or materials
derived from those statements.
argues that the court should grant his motions to suppress
the initial Miranda violation by Houston Police
Officers justifies the suppression of all incriminating
evidence. Additionally, Mr. PALACIOS LOPEZ was deprived of
the Miranda warnings a second time when interviewed
by the deportation officer. . . The Miranda
violation also contravenes the Fourth, Fifth, and
Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. CONST, amends IV, V,
argues that his statements to Medina should be suppressed
because "any statements to . . . Medina were not
voluntary, " and alienage is an element of the offenses
with which he is charged.
government does not contest that Medina questioned the
defendant while he was in custody without providing him
Miranda warnings. Asserting that Medina merely
questioned the defendant to determine if an immigration
detainer was required and not to investigate the defendant
for the criminal activity with which he was eventually
charged, the government argues that exceptions to
Miranda support the denial of the defendant's
motions to suppress.
Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 110 S.Ct. 2638 (1990), the
government argues that Officer Medina's questions fall
within the "routine booking question" exception
that exempts from Miranda's coverage questions to secure
the "'biographical data necessary to complete
booking or pretrial services.'" Citing
Immigration and Naturalization Service v.
Lopez-Mendoza, 104 S.Ct. 3479, 3483-84 (1984), and
United States v. Hernandez-Mandujano, 721 F.3d 345,
351 (5th Cir. 2013), the government argues that "[c]ase
precedent forecloses any argument that Defendant's
identity and A-file are suppressible. . .
" The government also argues that "the
discovery of [defendant's] wallet and passport during
inventory of his person [subsequent to his] arrest was a
lawful method to determine the identity of a defendant in
custody." Finally, citing Nix v. Williams,
104 S.Ct. 2501, 2508-09 (1984), the government argues that
the defendant's statements to Medina are not subject to
suppression because "any information discovered by . . .
Medina would have been discovered alternatively, due to the
information he had independent of the Defendant's
statements. . ."
Miranda, 86 S.Ct. at 1612, the Supreme ...