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United States v. Alvarez

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

May 7, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ALEXIS ALVAREZ

          ORDER

          XAVIER RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Defendant is charged in this case with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

         Defendant argues in his motion to suppress that the affiant in the applications in support of the search warrants in this case made misleading or false statements. He also argues that the two search warrants executed at his residence were issued without probable cause to believe that any illegal contraband or illegal activities were taking place there.

         BACKGROUND

         A. October 21, 2016 application for search warrant of 18202 Girasole

         On October 21, 2016, DEA Special Agent James Phillips made an application for a search warrant of 18202 Girasole in San Antonio, Texas. In his affidavit in support thereof he alleged that the Defendant Alexis Alvarez and others were involved in the distribution of hydroponic marijuana, money laundering and structuring of their cash proceeds. DEA Agent Phillips stated that he had participated in several interviews with a credible and reliable confidential source (CS) about the Defendant's criminal activities. In his affidavit he summarized the interviews as follows:

         In a January 2015 interview the CS relayed that in 2010 the Defendant had contracted with a supplier named Yao from California to supply the Defendant with hydroponic marijuana, and that Defendant Alvarez received 30 pounds of hydroponic marijuana from Yao. The CS also relayed that on two other occasions Alvarez paid Yao $60, 000 and $150, 000 for loads of hydroponic marijuana, but both loads were confiscated by law enforcement officers. During a February 2015 interview the CS relayed that Alvarez had been selling marijuana in the San Antonio area for over 10 years. The CS stated that in 2009 Alvarez moved to Denton, Texas to attend the University of North Texas, and while at UNT Alvarez was selling marijuana to UNT students. The CS relayed that Alvarez had sources of marijuana in Austin and Houston, Texas.

         The CS also relayed that in 2012, Ramsey Cadena began receiving marijuana from Alvarez; and that Cadena had received four or five loads of 25 pounds for $3, 000 per pound. The CS also relayed that Edmundo Ramirez and Alvarez had several active indoor grow locations within San Antonio and that Brian Bishoffburger was overseeing the indoor grows for the Defendant. The CS also relayed that Ryan Courtney was also supplied marijuana from Defendant Alvarez, and that Courtney was arrested by San Antonio police in 2013 when he was caught in possession of marijuana.

         In his affidavit DEA Agent Philips also summarized the various business entities the Defendant was involved in. DEA Agent Phillips indicated that in an August 2015 interview the CS explained that the Defendant was laundering his marijuana proceeds by investing $150, 000 into one of the businesses (Soccer City) and receiving monthly payments back from the company as a salary. The CS relayed that the owner of Soccer City (F. Louie) was aware that the source of Alvarez's investment was from marijuana sales.

         In his affidavit DEA Agent Phillips also noted that on November 6, 2013, the Defendant formed another business venture (A.E. Alvarez Investments, LLC). On November 22, 2013, A.E. Alvarez Investments, LLC purchased the residence located at 18202 Girasole. DEA Agent Phillips thereafter summarized how the closing took place using 23 cashier's checks and/or money orders.

         In his affidavit DEA Agent Phillips also relayed that during an August 4, 2015 interview the CS relayed that a finance manager at Mercedes Benz of Boerne explained to Alvarez that purchases made using over $10, 000 in cash were reported on a Form 8300. DEA Agent Phillips thereafter summarized how the Defendant acquired a Mercedes Benz CL63 in June of 2013 and a C63WS in December 2015.

         In addition, DEA Agent Phillips summarizes in his affidavit that his review of various records indicate that no Texas companies have reported paying any wages to Defendant Alvarez from 2008 through October 2016, that in 2011 and 2012 Defendant only reported income of $37, 884 and $38, 710 as a personal trainer, and that A.E. Alvarez Investments, LLC had not filed any tax returns. DEA Agent Phillips further noted that the Defendant had been previously arrested and charged on three separate occasions with possession of marijuana.

         DEA Agent Phillips also indicated in his affidavit that In April 2016, Mark Anthony Rejino was arrested at his residence, which contained 20 pounds of marijuana, cocaine, and $16, 000. Rejino informed police officers at the time of his arrest that he had obtained the marijuana from Defendant Alvarez. Frank Zamora was noted as the delivery person. Zamora was one of the individuals who purchased a cashier's check that was used to purchase 18202 Girasole.

         DEA Agent Phillips stated in his affidavit that on September 30 and October 4, 2016, surveillance was conducted at 18202 Girasole. A “trash run” done at the property found a bank savings account statement in Defendant's name showing multiple deposits, a partial drug ...


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