United States v. Juan Perales

Case: 17-40005 Document: 00514408839 Page: 1 Date Filed: 03/30/2018 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit No. 17-40005 FILED March 30, 2018 Lyle W. Cayce UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Clerk Plaintiff - Appellee v. JUAN PERALES, Defendant - Appellant Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Before STEWART, Chief Judge, and CLEMENT and SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judges. CARL E. STEWART, Chief Judge: Defendant-Appellant Juan Perales appeals the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress several bundles of cocaine discovered and seized after he consented to the search of his vehicle. Because we conclude the district court did not clearly err in finding that Perales’s consent to the search was voluntary, we AFFIRM. I. BACKGROUND On January 13, 2016, Agent Michael Tamez (“Agent Tamez”) of the Kingsville Specialized Crimes and Narcotics Task Force observed a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with a non-functioning brake light; a computer check Case: 17-40005 Document: 00514408839 Page: 2 Date Filed: 03/30/2018 No. 17-40005 of the vehicle’s license plate indicated that the truck might not be insured. Because both the faulty brake light and driving without valid liability insurance are violations of the Texas Transportation Code, Agent Tamez initiated a traffic stop. 1 Agent Tamez asked Perales, who was the sole occupant of the truck, for his identification and proof of liability insurance. Perales provided his identification, but could not readily locate his insurance documentation. According to Agent Tamez, “[Perales] looked underneath the seat. He looked near the left door panel . . . and eventually he went to the glove compartment. And the documentation was inside the glove compartment,” which was completely empty except for the insurance documents. Agent Tamez observed that the insurance policy had been purchased the day before the traffic stop and was only good for thirty days. At the suppression hearing, Agent Tamez testified that, in his experience as a drug interdiction officer, it was common in instances of drug trafficking for the driver of the vehicle to be unfamiliar with the location of insurance documents and for the interior of the vehicle to lack signs of personalization. It was also common for smugglers to get a 30-day liability insurance policy so that if the vehicle is seized carrying contraband, “the [smuggling] organization itself does not lose out on money by buying a six month or year long (sic) insurance policy.” After receiving Perales’s identification and insurance paperwork, Agent Tamez asked Perales “how he was doing,” and asked him to “exit the vehicle and step to the rear.” Perales complied, and Agent Tamez “asked him to sit inside the front seat of [the] patrol unit.” Perales again complied. Agent Tamez climbed into the driver’s seat of the patrol unit, explained the traffic violation to Perales, and told Perales that he was going to issue him a warning. Agent 1 Agent Jacob Moya was riding along with Agent Tamez and sat in the back seat of ...

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