from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Texas
CLEMENT, GRAVES, and OLDHAM, Circuit Judges.
S. OLDHAM, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Enrique Cantú is a member of the Texas Mexican Mafia.
He says the U.S. Constitution and federal civil rights laws
afford him money damages against state and federal law
enforcement officers for claims arising from a drug bust. We
case arises from a transnational drug-trafficking
investigation. In 2010, the federal government began
investigating the Texas Mexican Mafia. As part of its
investigation, the government identified Jesus Rodriguez
Barrientes as the gang's leader in the Rio Grande Valley.
Working with state and local law enforcement, the FBI planned
a sting operation as part of Barrientes's regular heroin
purchases from Mexican drug smugglers.
agents convinced Juan Pablo Rodriguez, a member of the Texas
Mexican Mafia, to work as an informant. When Barrientes's
heroin shipment arrived, Rodriguez would meet the drug
smugglers at the border and then drive everyone to a drop-off
location. There Rodriguez would deliver the heroin to
whomever Barrientes designated as his authorized recipient.
morning of August 10, 2011, things went mostly according to
plan. Rodriguez, accompanied by an undercover police officer,
drove to the Rio Grande where he met the drug smugglers.
Then, at 7:30 a.m., Rodriguez called Cantú and asked
him to come to an H-E-B parking lot so they could talk in
person. According to Cantú, Rodriguez did not say what
he wanted to talk about.
Cantú arrived, he parked to the left of
Rodriguez's car and rolled down his passenger-side
window. Rodriguez then got out of his car, went to the trunk,
took out a cooler, and placed it through Cantú's
open window and onto the passenger seat. "I need you to
do me a favor," Rodriguez allegedly said. Cantú
says he had time to ask only one question-"What are you
doing?"-before forty-five law enforcement officers
descended on his vehicle. One of the officers, FBI Agent
David de los Santos, pulled Cantú from his car,
searched him, and placed him under arrest. The cooler
contained nearly two kilograms of heroin.
Cantú says he remained in his car the whole time and
never touched the cooler, two federal agents swore otherwise
in affidavits. FBI Agent James Moody said Cantú exited
his vehicle and personally took the cooler from
Rodriguez's trunk. FBI Agent Erin LaBuz said Rodriguez
handed the cooler to Cantú, who personally placed it
in his passenger seat.
federal grand jury indicted Cantú, Barrientes, his
wife, and two smugglers for possession of heroin with intent
to distribute and conspiracy. Barrientes, his wife, and one
of the smugglers pleaded guilty and were sent to federal
prison. Cantú elected to stand trial. On October 31,
2013, a federal jury acquitted him. By that time, he had
spent more than two years in jail.
then sued a slew of defendants under Bivens, the
Federal Tort Claims Act, § 1983, § 1985, and state
law. In the complaint, he alleged twenty-one claims under the
Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and
various tort theories-like malicious prosecution, false
arrest, false imprisonment, assault, civil conspiracy,
conversion, and negligence. And he offered his theory of how
he went from his bed to a grocery store to a jail cell:
Forty-five officers jeopardized a sophisticated, multi-year,
multi-jurisdictional sting operation aimed at a transnational
gang to frame an otherwise-innocent member of the Texas
Mexican Mafia in an effort "to improve each of their
professional arrest and conviction rate records against drug
traffickers." However far-fetched that might seem, we
take Cantú's well-pleaded allegations as true.
See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 680-81 (2009).
alleges he was never the intended recipient of the heroin. He
says Rodriguez, while driving to the H-E-B, tried and failed
to get in touch with the actual recipient. So he called
Cantú instead. The gravamen of Cantú's
complaint is that officers who were privy to Rodriguez's
audible-and Cantú's professed ignorance about why
he was being called to the grocery store-knew Cantú
was not the guy who was supposed to show up that morning. Yet
they permitted him to be arrested and then doubled down,
fabricating facts about Cantú's behavior to create
the impression he was the guy.
several hearings, the district court dismissed all of
Cantú's claims against all fifteen federal, state,
and county defendants. It also granted Cantú's
motion to voluntarily dismiss (with prejudice) his claims
against the only remaining defendant-the private company that
operated the prison where he was housed before trial. The
court further denied Cantú's request to file a
Fourth Amended Complaint. It later filed four separate
dismissal orders. Cantú appealed the orders dismissing
the federal, state, and county defendants.
briefs before our Court, Cantú pursues only a subset
of his claims against only a subset of the defendants-FBI
Agent James Moody, FBI Agent Erin LaBuz, FBI Agent David de
los Santos, and Texas DPS Officer Alfredo Barrera. He has
forfeited everything else. See United States v.
Vazquez, 899 F.3d 363, 380 n.11 (5th Cir. 2018) (holding
appellant's "failure to clearly identify [an issue]
as a potential basis for relief forfeits the argument on
review the dismissal of Cantú's claims de
novo. Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet,
Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004). We start with
his § 1985 claim against the federal officers. It fails
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Second, we
address his § 1983 claims against Barrera. They fail
under the same ...