United States v. Cordova-Espinoza

Case: 21-50518 Document: 00516490662 Page: 1 Date Filed: 09/30/2022 United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit FILED September 30, 2022 No. 21-50518 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk United States of America, Plaintiff—Appellee, versus Santiago Cordova-Espinoza, Defendant—Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas USDC No. 4:20-CR-330-1 Before King, Duncan, and Engelhardt, Circuit Judges. Per Curiam: Santiago Cordova-Espinoza appeals the district court’s denial of a mo- tion to suppress evidence obtained by federal agents after a hotel manager opened the door to a room containing Cordova. The district court properly found that this search was a private search. As private searches do not impli- cate the Fourth Amendment, the district court correctly denied Cordova’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from the search in question. We there- fore AFFIRM. Case: 21-50518 Document: 00516490662 Page: 2 Date Filed: 09/30/2022 No. 21-50518 I. Santiago Cordova-Espinoza (“Cordova”), a Mexican citizen, entered the United States without authorization. He was found at the OYO Hotel in Alpine, Texas, when the hotel’s manager opened the door to Cordova’s room in front of Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) agents. Cordova was charged with illegal reentry under 8 U.S.C. Section 1326. He then moved to suppress the fruits of the hotel-room search, arguing that the hotel manager was acting as a Government agent and that the Government lacked a warrant that authorized the search. The district court held a suppression hearing and denied the motion. Cordova thereafter pleaded guilty to illegal reentry under 8 U.S.C. Section 1326, reserving his right to challenge the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress. The suppression hearing produced the following facts. Based on information from other sources reporting multiple undocumented immigrants gathering at the OYO Hotel, six Border Patrol agents went to the hotel. Two agents entered the OYO Hotel’s office and spoke to the desk attendant before ultimately speaking with the hotel’s owner and manager, Yogesh Patel. An agent explained to Patel why the agents were there and asked for details regarding Room 115, where it was believed the undocumented immigrants were residing. This agent did not ask Patel to open the door to Room 115, but Patel offered regardless. In response, the agent told Patel “no, [and] that [he] needed to go speak with [his] supervisor first.” The two agents then left the office and returned to the other agents in the parking lot outside of Room 115. Outside Room 115, the agents attempted to knock on the door four or five times, but the occupants did not open the door. Patel then approached an agent in the parking lot and asked him if the agents “wanted in the room.” This agent responded: “Well, we’ve attempted a knock and talk, but nobody 2 Case: 21-50518 Document: 00516490662 Page: 3 Date Filed: 09/30/2022 No. 21-50518 has answered. Outside of that, there is nothing we can do without a warrant.” The agent “explained to [Patel] that the occupants, whoever …

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