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United States v. Goodin

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

May 20, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
THOMAS J.M. GOODIN (01) MEKO R. WALKER (02) BRITTANY S. GIX (03)

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY JUDGE.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the undersigned Magistrate Judge, on reference from the District Court, are motions to suppress filed by Defendants Thomas Goodin [doc. # 52] and Brittany Gix [doc. # 53]. For reasons explained below, it is recommended that the motions be DENIED.

         Background

         On October 5, 2017, at approximately 7:30 a.m., agents with Metro Narcotics[1] and MPD were inspecting packages at the FedEx located at 1111 Oliver Road, Monroe, Louisiana. (Tr. 65). As Agent Nicolas Oglesby watched packages being offloaded from a truck onto a conveyer belt, he observed one package (the “GIX package”) that he found suspicious because it was in a box that had been reshaped to fit what was inside and was taped on all seams. He pulled the package off the conveyer belt for additional inspection. He observed the package was set for overnight delivery, and therefore likely expensive to ship, and it was coming from California, a source state for drugs, which indicated possible contraband in the package. (Tr. 79-82). The package was shipped in a brown box with FedEx tracking number 7879 6700 6828 and measured 19x7x7 inches. It was shipped from Tyrone Gix in Loma Linda, CA and was set to be delivered to Jordyn Gix at 912 Riverside Drive Apt. 37 in Monroe, LA, 71201. (Gov. Ex. 1, [doc. # 87-1]). Agent Oglesby ran the names Tyrone Gix and Jordyn Gix through a police database but was unable to verify whether they were real people. (Tr. 85-87).

         Agent Oglesby handed the package off for Officer Jason Hendrix and his narcotics certified K-9, Buck, to conduct an outer air sniff of the package. (Tr. 82-83). Buck alerted positively to the presence of narcotics. Agent Oglesby was not present for the sniff but was notified of the positive alert, which established probable cause to search the package. (Tr. 84, 103). He brought the package back to MPD and applied for and obtained a search warrant. When he opened the package, Agent Oglesby found a box wrapped in red birthday paper. The box contained several items, including a makeup bag. Inside the makeup bag was a taped, vacuum sealed package that weighed approximately 542 grams. The package was opened and field tested, and it tested positive for methamphetamine. (Gov. Exs. 2, 4, [docs. # 87-2, 87-4]).

         After finding the methamphetamine, Metro Narcotics agents rewrapped the package to conduct a controlled delivery to 912 Riverside Drive Apt. 37. Agent Oglesby also applied for and obtained an anticipatory search warrant for the same address. (Tr. 110; Gov. Ex. 4). At approximately 3:40 p.m., Agent Scott Sadler dressed as a delivery man and placed the package at the door. (Tr. 111); [doc. # 82 at 3]. Prior to Agent Sadler walking away from the apartment, a black female, later identified as Brittany Gix, picked up the package and brought it inside the apartment. [doc. # 82 at 3].

         A short while later, a gold Ford Expedition pulled up to the front of apartment. (Id.) A black male, later identified as Meko Walker, got out and went inside the apartment. When he came out, he was carrying the red birthday paper wrapped box inside a plastic Wal-Mart bag. Agents stopped and arrested Walker and secured the apartment. Agent Oglesby entered the apartment, advised Gix of her rights, and requested that she accompany him to Metro Narcotics for questioning. (Tr. 110-14).

         Through Gix, Metro Narcotics obtained evidence that Thomas Goodin was the person who shipped the package from California. (Tr. 114; see Gov. Ex. 3, [doc. #87-3]). DEA Special Agent Vic Zordan contacted FedEx in San Bernardino, CA and obtained still photographs taken from in-store surveillance video on October 4, 2017. The photographs depict a person entering the store with a box wrapped in red birthday paper. He purportedly pays to ship the package and leaves the store empty-handed. Agent Oglesby identified the person as Goodin based on selfies Goodin texted to Gix on October 4, 2017. The outfit Goodin wore in the FedEx store appeared to be the same outfit Goodin wore in the selfies. An employee at the San Bernardino FedEx also provided a description that matched Goodin. (Tr. 114-15).

         In relation to this incident, Goodin, Gix, and Walker were charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846. Gix and Walker were also charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)-(2), 846. [doc. # 1].

         On October 19, 2018, Defendants Goodin and Gix filed motions to suppress the FedEx evidence, claiming the contraband was seized pursuant to a defective warrant. [docs. # 52, 53]. On December 21, 2018, Goodin filed a supplemental memorandum in support of his motion to suppress. [doc. # 72].

         On March 1, 2019, the Government filed its response claiming (1) Defendants have no standing to contest the search of the FedEx package that did not contain either of their names; (2) officers had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to detain the package for investigative purposes; (3) the K-9's positive alert to narcotics established probable cause to search the package; and (4) officers relied in good faith on the warrant in searching the package. [doc. # 82].

         Goodin and Gix filed replies on March 5, 2019. [docs. # 84, 85].

         A suppression hearing took place on March 6, 2019 and April 1, 2019, with testimony from William Scott Smith, [2] Sandra Walker, [3] Agent Oglesby, Officer Hendrix, and Detective Kwasic Heckard.[4] Defendants ...


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