Some evidence suppressed in Magnolia drug case

DOVER — While insufficient suspicion existed to search a vehicle during a Magnolia drug investigation last year, a judge ruled Tuesday there was probable cause for police to check a residence and storage shed.

Juan “Nacho” Valentin challenged the validity of Delaware State Police search warrants executed in September 2017, which followed investigation into alleged distribution of heroin and cocaine from a single story home on Mystic Lane in the Grandview Meadows neighborhood.

In a 10-page Superior Court order, Judge Noel Primos reasoned that a warrant did not describe a vehicle outside the residence “as being associated with any of the alleged criminal activity.

“The affidavit merely states that the Vehicle was parked near the Residence and registered to Mr. Valentin.”

According to police, drug contraband and firearms were allegedly located inside the residence, and another firearm was discovered in the vehicle. Drug contraband was reportedly found in the storage unit, the order said.

 

Defense attorney Alexander Funk argued to suppress the search of the vehicle and storage unit, with Deputy Attorney General Sean Motoyoshi representing the State of Delaware. The residential search was not referenced in the defense’s oral arguments, the judge noted.

The judge described the general nature of the warrant regarding “any and all vehicles that are located on the property at the time” of execution as “troubling, as it would encompass not only Mr. Valentin’s vehicles, but those of any other neighbor or visitor whose vehicle happened to be parked near the premises.”

Just knowing that the vehicle was registered to a suspected drug dealer did not justify a warrant to search it, Judge Primos said.

Also, the judge maintained, “To permit a warrant to issue merely because the vehicle was registered in Mr. Valentin’s name and parked outside his Residence would sanction ‘virtually automatic’ searches of the vehicles of any individual suspected of a drug crime.’ “

Mr. Valentin’s alleged denial of and supposed deception answering questions about the storage unit at Air Base Mini Storage provided probable cause for its search, the Court determined. Police initially located a billing invoice for the unit during the residential search, the order said.

“Ultimately, Mr. Valentin confirmed that the Storage Unit was his and that he had stored equipment there,” Judge Primos wrote.

Assisted by confidential informants, police said “several controlled purchases of cocaine and oxycodone” from Mr. Valentin and others were made from the residence.

Staff writer Craig Anderson
can be reached at 741-8296
or canderson@newszap.com.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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