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United States v. Ruffin

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

December 29, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DAMAR RUFFIN, Defendant.

          ORDER

          DONALD C. NUGENT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Suppress Search Warrants and Arrest; Fourth Amendment Violation; Request for Evidentiary Hearing (Docket #36) and the Supplemental Motion to Suppress (Docket #45) filed by Defendant, Damar Ruffin. A hearing on Mr. Ruffin's Motion to Suppress was held on November 17, 2017. (Docket #52.) Postal Inspector Marc Kudley of the United States Postal Inspection Service and Detective Chris Carney of the Akron Police Department, Narcotics Unit, testified on behalf of the United States.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background.

         On November 13, 2015, a Federal Search Warrant was issued and executed on U.S. Postal Service Parcel bearing Label No. EL099437390US, addressed to Jessica Bank, 2045 White Pond Dr., Akron OH 44313, with a return address of Brandon Elliot, 4301 W. Nichols, Sacramento, CA 95820. (Docket #39, Exhibit 1.) During their search of the Parcel, Postal Inspectors found approximately five pounds of methamphetamine concealed in two white plastic cylinders. On November 13, 2015, a controlled delivery of the Parcel was made and the Parcel was transferred by a Postal Supervisor to Postal Carrier Jalila S. Stoudemire, who was suspected of being involved in the distribution of methamphetamine, for delivery on her route. Instead of delivering the Parcel - and a second parcel, Parcel No. EL09943739045, containing approximately three pounds of methamphetamine for which a search warrant was also issued and controlled delivery executed - Ms. Stoudemire scanned both Parcels as delivered but transferred the Parcels at the end of her shift to her personal vehicle at the Post Office. She then drove her personal vehicle with the two Parcels inside to 665 W. Exchange Street, Akron OH 44302, an address known to law enforcement as being associated with drug trafficking.

         Postal Carrier Stoudemire was arrested in the driveway of 665 W. Exchange Street and the Parcels were recovered from her personal vehicle. After Postal Carrier Stoudemire was arrested, authorities arrested Damar Ruffin behind 665 W. Exchange Street as he attempted to flee from the back of the house. Mr. Ruffin was charged with a State felony offense relating to the methamphetamine being delivered to 665 W. Exchange Street. (Docket #39, Exhibit 2.) Two cellular phones (LG and Kyocera), and $1, 340.00 in U.S. Currency, were seized from Mr. Ruffin at the time of his arrest. Two hours later, officers secured a Search Warrant for 665 W. Exchange Street. (Docket #36, Exhibit B.)

         On November 16, 2017, a Search Warrant was issued for the cell phones seized during Mr. Ruffin's arrest. Chris Carney, a Detective with the Akron Police Department, Narcotics Unit, submitted an Affidavit in support of the issuance of the Search Warrant, stating as follows:

1. Affiant is a member of the Akron Police Department and has been so employed for the past 18 years, his current assignment is with the Akron Narcotic Unit.
2. Affiant states that on 11-13-15 two packages addressed to Jessica Bank 2045 White Pond Dr. Akron, Ohio 44313 and Ms. Dena J Watkins 1695 Liberty Dr. Akron Ohio 44313 were interdicted at the United States Post Office. Federal search warrants were sought and obtained for the parcels.
3. Affiant states that on 11-13-15 the above packages were opened. The parcel addressed to White Pond contained approximately 5 pounds of crystal methamphetamine The parcel addressed to 1695 Liberty Drive contained approximately 3 pounds of crystal Methamphetamine.
4. Affiant is aware that a controlled delivery operation was undertaken where the two packages, known to contain methamphetamine, were provided to a postal carrier who was suspected of diverting drug packages for area drug traffickers. One package was outfitted with a device which made it possible to track the location of the package through its GPS coordinates.
5. Affiant is aware that detectives maintained surveillance on the postal carrier. Affiant is aware that neither package was delivered. During the course of her daily routine. The postal carrier was seen leaving the post office with the packages still in her possession. She was followed to 665 W Exchange St where she was arrest prior to delivering the parcels. Damar D Ruffin at the time the arrest was made and is believed to be one of intended recipients of the parcels.
6. Affiant states that 665 W Exchange St is within the city limits of Akron.
7. Affiant states that Damar D Ruffin was arrested and charged with Possession of Sch II Crystal Methamphetamine 8. Affiant states that Damar D Ruffin was searched incident to his arrest and found in possession of the above described cellular phones.
9. Affiant is aware based on his training; education and experience that individuals involved in illicit drug activity often keep contacts and transaction ...

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