United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO
R. MARTINEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
day, the Court considered Defendant Jose Alberto Valle-
Pasillas' [hereinafter "Defendant"]
"Motion to Suppress Evidence" (ECF No. 70)
[hereinafter "Motion"], filed on September 30,
2019, and the Government's "Response in Opposition
to Defendant's Motion to Suppress" (ECF No. 72)
[hereinafter "Response"], filed on October 8, 2019,
in the above-captioned cause. Defendant asserts that his
traffic stop and arrest were illegal, and all evidence
"obtained therefrom" should be suppressed. Mot. 1.
The Government contends that the traffic stop and arrest were
constitutional based on sufficient reasonable suspicion and
probable cause. After due consideration, the Court is of the
opinion that Defendant's Motion should be denied for the
reasons that follow.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Motion refences facts contained in "investigate reports
provided by the Government," and introduces no
additional facts. Mot. 1. Government's Response
references facts contained in "reports of investigation,
and interviews with witnesses," and states that "a
complete and unredacted copy of the Investigate Report
authored by DPS Trooper George Arellan6 [hereinafter
"Trooper Arellano"] was delivered to Counsel for
Defendant on August 12, 2019." Resp. 2. Thus, both
Defendant's Motion and Government's Response are
based on the same underlying facts contained in the
Government's investigative report.
26, 2019, at 10:14 a.m., Trooper Arellano was on routine
patrol on Interstate Highway 10. Resp. attach. A at 15. The
Government alleges that "the posted speed limit in this
area is 80 miles per hour" and there are signs advising
"Left Lane for Passing Only" which are "posted
about every two to four miles." Resp. 2. Defendant
argues that in the Government's investigative report
"nothing suggest[ed] a sign existed at the time of the
alleged offenses and or traffic infractions disallowing
travel in the left lane." Mot. 2.
state law provides that "[i]f, on a highway having more
than one lane with vehicles traveling in the same direction,
the Texas Department of Transportation or a local authority
places a sign that directs slower traffic to travel in a lane
other than the farther left lane, the sign must read
'left lane for passing only.'" Tex. Transp. Code
Ann. § 544.011. It also provides that "the operator
of a vehicle or streetcar shall comply with an applicable
official traffic control device [i.e., a sign] placed as
provided by this subtitle." Id. § 544.004.
Together, these provisions establish a traffic violation for
failing to use the left highway lane for passing where
designated as such.
his rearview mirror, Trooper Arellano observed a Black 2016
Cadillac Escalade [hereinafter "Black SUV"]
traveling in the left lane of Interstate Highway 10. Resp.
attach. A at 15. The Black SUV drastically decreased its
speed and continued to travel in the left lane at 40-45 miles
per hour. Id. Trooper Arellano observed that the
Black SUV was impeding traffic. Id.
in the right lane in his patrol vehicle, Trooper Arellano
pulled over to the side of the road to allow traffic to pass
unimpeded. Id. The Black SUV passed him in the left
lane of Interstate Highway 10 continuing to travel at 40-45
miles per hour. Id. Trooper Arellano identified that
the Black SUV had a California Registration of 8JSM487.
Arellano does not indicate in the Government's
investigative report when he requested a records check on the
California license plate. Resp. attach. A at 15. However, the
Government asserts that at the time the Black SUV passed
Trooper Arellano, he "requested a records check on the
vehicle's California license plate," which,
"revealed that the license tag had expired on June 20,
2019, over a month before the day in question." Resp. 2.
Defendant asserts that it is "unclear at what point the
trooper noticed that the plates were expired." Mot. 2.
to the Texas Transportation Code, it is a traffic violation
to operate a vehicle on a public highway "after the
fifth working day after the date the registration for the
vehicle expires." Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 502.407.
Now behind the Black SUV, Trooper Arellano activated his red
and blue emergency lights and initiated a traffic stop for
two traffic violations: "Drive In Left Lane When Not
Passing or Where Prohibited (TXTRC 544.011; 544.004) and
Operation of Vehicle With Expired License Plate (TXTRC
502.407)." Resp. attach. A at 15.
Black SUV pulled over onto the unimproved shoulder of
Interstate Highway 10 at mile marker 76. Id.
Defendant indicates that the stop occurred at "an
unknown mile marker" but offers no facts to support its
assertion. Mot. 1. Immediately after the SUV stopped, a group
of eight individuals immediately exited the Black SUV and
fled the scene on foot. Resp. attach. A at 19. The Black SUV
then fled the scene at a high rate of speed, reportedly at
over 100 miles per hour. Id. at 15. The driver of
the Black SUV nearly hit a truck-tractor semi-trailer, cut
off other vehicles, and drove on the shoulder of the road.
Id. Next, the driver attempted to exit the highway
but lost control of the vehicle and rolled multiple times.
Arellano approached the Black SUV after the crash and
observed the driver exit from the rear of the vehicle.
Id. The driver fled on foot, and Trooper Arellano
pursued him and made an arrest. Id. at 16. Trooper
Arellano arrested the driver for a violation Texas Penal Code
section 38.04(b)(1)(B), "Evading Arrest or
Detention." Id. at 10. The driver of the
vehicle was later identified as Defendant Valle-Pasillas.
Id. at 15.
September 11, 2019, Defendant was charged in a superseding
indictment with transporting aliens, in violation of 8 U.S.C.
§§ 1324(a)(1)(A)(ii) and (a)(1)(B)(ii). Superseding
Indictment, Sept. 11, 2019, ECF No. 47. Defendant now moves
to suppress all evidence flowing from his traffic stop and
arrest. Mot. 1.