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United States v. Carswell

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

June 4, 2019




         The Defendant, Adonnis Carswell, was indicted on charges that he possessed with intent to distribute heroin, and that he possessed a firearm in furtherance of that drug trafficking crime. He is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence [ECF No. 86], filed on May 19, 2019. The Defendant requests that the Court suppress all evidence obtained during the June 30, 2017, search of a residence on Green Road in New Haven, Indiana.

         The search was conducted pursuant to a warrant. The Defendant argues that the magistrate judge issued the warrant in error because the application for the warrant, including the attached affidavit, did not establish probable cause that evidence of drug trafficking would be found inside the residence.

         The Government maintains that a practical, common sense reading of the totality of the affidavit established probable cause to issue the search warrant for the Green Road residence, as it provided sufficient detail to suggest that the Defendant possessed drugs, was dealing drugs, unlawfully possessed a firearm, and was living at the residence. The Government submits that, alternatively, if the Court reaches a different conclusion regarding the existence of probable cause, the fruits of the search would be admissible because the officers acted in good faith in executing the search warrant.


         On June 29, 2017, ATF Task Force Officer (TFO) Caleb Anderson provided a sworn application and affidavit, and United States Magistrate Judge Paul R. Cherry issued a search warrant for the premises of XXXX Green Road, New Haven, Indiana.

         The affidavit provided the following grounds for asserting that XXXX Green Road was the primary residence of Adonnis Carswell: Spillman records listed Carswell as living at the residence; on June 26, 2017, Carswell told a New Haven Police Officer, during a traffic stop, that it was his residence; on June 27, 2017, TFO Anderson observed Carswell walking with his dog and two children on Green Road south of the driveway at XXXX Green Road; and, a black SUV observed in the driveway of the residence on June 26, 27, 28 and 29, 2017, matched the description of a vehicle that BMV records showed was registered to Carswell.

         Another person, Dereka Evans, was also connected to the residence through various observations laid out in the affidavit. Evans accompanied Carswell in a white passenger car to pick up a vehicle that had been towed after a recent traffic stop. A white passenger car was observed on multiple dates and times at the XXXX Green Road residence. Receipts containing Evans's name were located in the trash bins outside the XXXX Green Road residence.

         The affidavit provided background information with respect to Carswell and Evans. It described an August 2014 Indiana State Police investigation involving the intercepted shipments of packages of marijuana to Carswell's residences and his place of business. In March 2015, an undercover postal inspector delivered a package of marijuana, which had been equipped with a parcel beacon and GPS unit, to one of these addresses in Fort Wayne. ISP had also obtained a search warrant for the residence. The package was monitored by undercover surveillance. The electronic devices were undisturbed until after a vehicle arrived at the house. The vehicle was driven by a black female, later identified as Evans. Carswell and two children were passengers in the vehicle.

         Carswell picked up the package and took it inside the residence. When the parcel's alarm sounded a short time later, indicating that the package was opened, ISP executed the search warrant. The search uncovered the package of marijuana, which had been originally wrapped in green saran wrap and axle grease. Officers also located $7, 240 in United States currency, a firearm, a body armor vest, documents and mail with Evans' name, documents and mail with Carswell's name, three drug ledgers, multiple cellular phones belonging Carswell, a digital scale with cocaine residue, plastic bags, rubber gloves, and a plate with cocaine residue.

         TFO Anderson's affidavit then turned to more recent events. He detailed the May 2, 2017, arrest of an individual on an indictment for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The residence where he was arrested contained evidence of drug trafficking, which TFO Anderson detailed. TFO Anderson interviewed the arrestee, who admitted to dealing narcotics, and identified Carswell and Carswell's brother as his suppliers. The arrestee noted that Carswell had been supplying the brother with drugs. The arrestee had just purchased additional drugs two days prior to his arrest, and he had obtained them from the brother. He made these purchases about once a week.

         TFO Anderson's affidavit provided the results of surveillance that he conducted at XXXX Green Road on June 26, 2017. At 5:00 p.m. on this date, he observed a black SUV parked near the garage. It appeared to be the black GMC Yukon registered to Carswell. He also noticed that two trash bins had been placed at the end of the driveway along Green Road for pick up. TFO Anderson came back to XXXX Green Road near midnight and observed that the trash bins were still at the roadway for pickup. He removed several bags and took them to the New Haven Police Department for inspection.

         TFO Anderson located the following items in the trash: a gray plastic bag that contained three opened food saver bags, two one-gallon ziplock bags that contained residue that field-tested positive for cocaine, two sandwich bags that field-tested positive for cocaine, two pairs of latex gloves, packaging that looked like a kilogram wrapper for cocaine that field-tested positive for cocaine. The kilogram packaging included green plastic saran wrap, which matched the photographs of the packaging used in the prior ISP case. TFO Anderson's affidavit proceeded to explain the significance of the various items, based on his training and experience. In sum, the items led TFO Anderson to believe that Carswell was distributing cocaine on a large-scale level.

         A gray plastic bag inside a Champs store bag contained crystals that TFO Anderson recognized through training and experience as crystal methamphetamine. The substance field-tested positive for methamphetamine. TFO Anderson collected about three grams of the substance, which he averred was a larger quantity of methamphetamine ...

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