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United States v. Dyer

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

June 3, 2014



JAMES R. SPENCER, Senior District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion to Suppress (ECF No. 29) by Defendant Maurice Lamont Dyer ("Dyer" or "Defendant"). For the reasons stated below, the Court will DENY Dyer's Motion.


A. Automobile Stop, Search, and Seizure at Pine Lake Drive

In 2012, members of the Hanover County Sheriff's Office, in cooperation with the Henrico Police Department, began an investigation into the drug trafficking activities of two individuals, later identified as Walter West ("West") and Tyrone Nelson ("Nelson"). Both West and Nelson have been charged in a heroin trafficking conspiracy, along with Dyer.

Between November 2012 and August 2013, a series of seven separate purchases of heroin were made directly from West by law enforcement utilizing Nelson as an informant. In August 2013, law enforcement officers learned that, for approximately a seven to eight month period of time leading up to the arrest of Nelson and West, the two had been pooling their money together to purchase heroin for redistribution to their customers. Law enforcement officers subsequently learned that the heroin source of supply was an individual who went by the names "Reese" and/or "Mo" and dealt directly with Nelson.

On the date of Defendant's arrest, a description of the individual known as "Reese" or "Mo" was provided to law enforcement by Nelson.[1] Nelson also provided a description of the vehicles the supplier drove-two white vans-and the area where the supplier lived. An agent who was familiar with Dyer thought that the description provided by Nelson regarding the source of supply may in fact be Dyer. A picture of Dyer was obtained and shown to Nelson with all identifiers removed. Nelson confirmed that the person in the picture-Dyer-was in fact the heroin source of supply.

Nelson indicated that he typically bought three ounces of heroin from Dyer several times a week. Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force Officer Keith Parknow directed Nelson to call Dyer to attempt to buy three ounces of heroin. On August 22, 2013, a series of telephone calls were placed to Dyer. At the time, Dyer's phone number was listed in Nelson's cell phone under the name "Re." Nelson contacted Dyer, was unable to reach him, and left a message on Dyer's telephone. Dyer returned the call shortly thereafter, and the two had a conversation in which Nelson informed Dyer that he was looking for three hours of "studio time." Dyer agreed to deliver the "studio time" to Nelson's residence. Dyer did not ask for directions to Nelson's residence. Nelson explained to Officer Parknow that Dyer and he used coded language to discuss their drug business and further explained that "3 hours of studio time" referred to three ounces of heroin.

While arrangements were being made to purchase heroin from Dyer, law enforcement officers simultaneously set up surveillance units in the vicinity of Dyer's residence, identified as 8032 Arbor Glen Place, Henrico, Virginia ("Home"). After Nelson's order was placed, a black male was observed driving to the Home in a black Lincoln SUV bearing West Virginia license plates. The man drove into the driveway of the Home, exited the Lincoln SUV, entered and exited the Home, got back into the Lincoln SUV, drove to a white van, and then got into the driver's seat of the white van. The man was in the white van approximately six minutes before he exited the van, got back into the Lincoln SUV, drove back up to the Home, exited the Lincoln SUV, and entered the Home yet again. Before the man left the Home, Nelson placed a second call to Dyer asking him when he was going to leave. Eventually, the man got back into the Lincoln SUV, pulled out of the driveway, and drove away from his Home. The man traveled directly to Nelson's residence.

Henrico County Police surveillance units followed the Lincoln SUV both in the air and on the ground. They watched as it drove directly to Nelson's residence at Pine Lake Drive without making any stops along the way. The man initially drove past the driveway of Nelson's residence, but then turned his vehicle back around when Nelson called Dyer to advise him that he was home. When the Lincoln SUV arrieved at Nelson's house, Nelson positively identified Dyer as the driver of the vehicle and as the heroin supplier he had called earlier. When Dyer pulled into the driveway of Nelson's residence, law enforcement officers approached the vehicle and Dyer was positively identified and detained ("Pine Lake Drive Stop"). Hanover Sheriff's Investigator Stem searched the driver's compartment of Dyer's Lincoln SUV, where he recovered a Chipotle Restaurant napkin secured with a rubber band. Inside the napkin was a plastic Ziploc bag with approximately three ounces of suspected heroin inside it. Dyer was arrested and, in a search of the Lincoln SUV incident to arrest, law enforcement officers recovered $26, 889 in United States currency. Dyer was brought to the police department, where he was read his rights pursuant to Miranda by Officer Parknow. Dyer stated that he understood his rights and agreed to speak with law enforcement. Dyer stated that he had gone to the location where he had been arrested to discuss the music business. Dyer advised that he is a promoter and that his co-defendant, Nelson, is a rap artist.

B. The Search Warrant for Dyer's Home

After Dyer was arrested, members of the Henrico County Police Department drafted an affidavit in support of a search warrant for the Home. The affidavit for the search warrant was submitted by Detective Christopher Briggs of the Henrico Police Department to Magistrate Jeffrey B. Znotens on August 22, 2013. The search warrant requested authorization for law enforcement to search the Home, the curtilage, and any and all vehicles and outbuildings on the property.

In the Affidavit, Detective Briggs indicated that members of the Henrico County Police Drug Enforcement Unit ("DEU") had previously executed a search warrant at Pine Lake Drive as a part of an ongoing investigation. The subject of the investigation reportedly had outstanding indictments for the distribution of Schedule I drugs, and Detective Briggs reportedly took the subject of the investigation into custody for his outstanding indictments for distribution of heroin. Detective Briggs indicated that a confidential informant had identified Dyer as his supplier of heroin.

The affidavit indicated that the informant was reported to have been able to identify a photograph of Dyer as a "Reese." Detective Briggs then reported that a phone call was placed by the informant to a number known to belong to Dyer and that Dyer answered the phone and agreed to meet with the informant to facilitate a transaction of a quantity of suspected heroin. Detective Briggs indicated that surveillance units set up around the area of the Home watched a black male pull up to the Home in a black Lincoln SUV, exit and enter the Home, get back into the Lincoln SUV, enter and exit other vehicles on the property, walk around the property, and finally, exit the driveway of the Home. Detective Briggs reported that units then followed the SUV to Pine Lake Drive where the driver and sole occupant was identified as Dyer. Dyer was then reportedly taken into custody and a quantity of heroin consistent with the quantity f heroin ordered by the confidential informant was found in the SUV including some amount of United States Currency. Detective Briggs then argued that he knew, through his training and experience with the distribution and possession of illegal drugs, that illegal drugs, assets, records, and documents pertaining to illegal activities ...

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