Submitted: May 19, 2016
from United States District Court for the District of South
Dakota - Sioux Falls
RILEY, Chief Judge, COLLOTON and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.
Camberos-Villapuda was charged with conspiracy to distribute
500 grams or more of methamphetamine. See 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), 846. Before trial, he moved to
suppress evidence seized and statements he made during a
search in Denver, Colorado. The district court denied the motion
as to the physical evidence, and a jury convicted Camberos.
The court sentenced Camberos to life imprisonment, as
mandated by 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). Camberos appeals
the district court's denial of his motion to suppress and
imposition of a life sentence. We affirm.
30, 2013, police received a tip that an out-of-state vehicle
would be delivering methamphetamine to a home near the
intersection of East Alameda Avenue and South Holly Street in
Denver. In response, Detectives Matthew Baughman and James
Edinger of the Denver Police Department conducted
surveillance of the area.
early morning hours of May 31, Baughman was walking in the
neighborhood's alleys. As he approached the home at 5620
East Alameda Avenue, Baughman heard grinding noises coming
from the residence's backyard. Through an opening large
enough for a vehicle to pass through on the south side of the
residence's slatted fence, Baughman observed a man, later
identified as Camberos, using a flashlight to work under a
red Ford Expedition. The Expedition was parked on the east
side of the residence and bore Nebraska license plates.
Baughman was unsure when the vehicle had arrived to the
moving further down the alley, Baughman watched Camberos for
approximately fifteen to twenty minutes through gaps in the
fence's east side. Baughman observed Camberos under the
Expedition grinding on an area in the center of the passenger
side of the vehicle. During that time, Baughman saw Camberos
crawl out from underneath the Expedition, approach the
opening in the fence, and peer down the alley. He also
witnessed Camberos enter the home briefly and then return to
work on the vehicle.
on his training and experience, Baughman was suspicious that
Camberos was making a "vehicle hide"-an alteration
made to a vehicle's frame, in which narcotics, weapons,
and firearms can be hidden. After Baughman consulted
Detective Edinger, the detectives requested assistance from
uniformed officers. Three officers arrived, and together with
Baughman, they walked onto the property through the large
opening in the fence's south side.
stopped working on the vehicle, and the uniformed officers
contacted him near the rear of the Expedition. Camberos
introduced himself as "Benjamin Sicairos-Camberos"
and, upon the officers' request, produced his wallet and
provided identification. Baughman was positioned nearby, and
noticed from his vantage point that Camberos was
"extremely nervous, " perspiring, and constantly
clearing his throat. At one point, Camberos retrieved a
bottle of water from near the house because he was having
Baughman could not hear the conversation between Camberos and
the uniformed officers, one of the officers relayed
Camberos's responses. The officer reported that Camberos
denied working on the Expedition initially and later claimed
that he was repairing the vehicle's wheel bearings.
Camberos also said that he did not know who owned the
vehicle. The officers checked the Expedition's license
plates and determined that Camberos was not the registered
owner. Camberos maintained that he had not been inside the
residence and did not know who lived there. Camberos also
stated that no one was in the house, but later said that
other people were inside.
hearing Camberos's comments, Baughman walked to the
passenger side of the Expedition and noticed tools consistent
with those that would be used to create a vehicle hide.
Baughman looked underneath the Expedition and found a hidden
compartment in the location where Camberos had been working.
Officers later discovered another vehicle hide elsewhere in
on their observations and Camberos's conflicting accounts
as to whether other people were in the house, the officers
decided to secure the residence. Some officers were worried
that the home's occupants were engaged in cartel
operations, that other residents would soon see the officers,
and that the residents would dispose of evidence or present a
safety risk. Another officer was concerned that Camberos was
committing a burglary and that victims could be located in
the house. The officers therefore entered the residence.
secured the inside of the residence, officers saw
methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and discovered two
people. The officers then applied for a search warrant. While
the officers waited for the warrant, Camberos informed police
that he was staying at the residence, and that he had
purchased the Expedition but registered the vehicle in
another person's name. After obtaining a warrant, the