United States v. Lopez-Zuniga, No. 17-3261 (8th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension obtained a state court warrant to place a GPS tracker on Lopez-Zuniga's car for 60 days. The officer provided an affidavit detailing a drug investigation into Garcia-Jimenez, noting several controlled drug transactions involving Garcia-Jimenez; sometime before a controlled drug transaction at the apartment complex where Garcia-Jimenez was believed to live, the officer saw someone in Lopez-Zuniga's car "drop off an individual who resembled Garcia-Jimenez." Another agent later observed Lopez-Zuniga and Garcia-Jimenez get into the same car at the apartment complex and drive to a restaurant. After 60 days, the agent obtained a second warrant, citing the same information plus the results of tracking the car and of a pen register on Garcia-Jimenez's phone, showing that he and Lopez-Zuniga had 154 "contacts" over about two months. Charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846, Lopez-Zuniga successfully moved to suppress evidence obtained from the tracking devices. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the suppression of evidence obtained from the first two warrants. The first warrant application was so lacking in indicia of probable cause that belief in its existence would have been entirely unreasonable, and the search is not saved by the good-faith exception. The second warrant application was still insufficient. The court erred in suppressing the fruits of the third and fourth warrant applications, which were supported by information regarding controlled sales to a confidential informant.