United States District Court, D. Nevada
R. HICKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Salgado moves to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence.
ECF No. 95. The government opposed the motion, and Salgado
filed a reply. ECF Nos. 99, 118. The court now denies the
motion, finding Salgado's claim for ineffective
assistance of counsel is meritless and finding Salgado's
remaining claims are procedurally barred.
federal grand jury indicted Salgado, on three counts: (1)
conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with the intent to
distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 and §
846; (2) conspiring to launder money in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1956; and (3) illegal use of a communication
facility in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843. ECF No. 4.
Salgado took the matter to trial, which lasted four days. ECF
Nos. 66, 68-70. He was represented by attorney Dennis
Cameron. ECF No. 33; see also ECF Nos. 66, 68-70.
trial, Sparks Police Officer Bryan Orr testified first.
Transcript of Jury Trial (“Tr.”) at II. Orr
worked as a task force officer with the Drug Enforcement
Administration (“DEA”) and served as a case agent
on the Salgado investigation. Tr. at 12-15, 21. As a case
agent, Orr reviewed the local law enforcement's prior
investigation. Tr. at 15. He then ordered a controlled
purchase of methamphetamine from the drug-trafficking
organization. Tr. at 16-17. After the purchase was complete,
Orr applied for pen registers and ping orders for telephone
numbers associated with the seller. Tr. at 18-19. He did so
in an effort to identify other members of the
drug-trafficking organization. Tr. at 18-19. Orr later
applied for a state wiretap after “[exhausting] all
other means of investigation [techniques].” Tr. at
wiretap began in January 2013, and was conducted by
third-party employees contracted by the DEA. Tr. at 21. The
monitoring occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tr. at 21. The
monitors were instructed to “only monitor criminal
calls.” Tr at 21. They were also instructed to contact
a case agent if a pertinent call was intercepted. Tr. at 21.
attempt to monitor only pertinent calls, the monitors
listened to intercepted calls for a limited time period. Tr.
at 21. If the monitors did not find the call to be pertinent
within the limited time period, they stopped listening to the
call. Tr. at 21. But the monitors periodically checked the
phone line to ensure that criminal activity was not being
discussed. Tr. at 23. Orr testified that the minimization
techniques were usually explained to the monitors by a
government attorney while Orr was present, during which time
the monitors review a minimization letter. Tr. at 23-24, 67.
Defense counsel objected to the testimony regarding the
monitors' training and conduct, but his objection was
overruled. Tr. at 23.
later applied for additional wiretaps for other phone numbers
associated with the drug-trafficking organization. Tr. at 57.
He testified that the monitors took the same precautions to
minimize the intercepted calls. Tr. at 57. Federal wiretaps
were eventually obtained for phone numbers being used in
California. Tr. at 58, 60. The investigation resulted in an
estimated 5, 000 to 6, 000 intercepted calls. Tr. at 89. Orr
also testified that the calls consisted of conversations
relating to the drug-trafficking operation. Tr. at 31-37,
405-409, 415-423, 425-428, 455-457.
addition to the above investigative steps, Orr conducted
in-person surveillance of Salgado when Salgado was in Reno.
Tr. at 38-45. The content of the intercepted calls, the ping
orders, and the in-person surveillance led Orr to believe
that Salgado lived in California but traveled to Reno for
purposes related to the drug-trafficking
operation. Tr. at 31-56. Orr testified that he
associated Salgado with a phone number subject to the federal
wiretap by using ping orders. Tr. at 59. He also linked
Salgado to the cars used in the drug-trafficking organization
by way of GPS data, surveillance, and registration searches.
Tr. at 408-410.
cross-examination, defense counsel attempted to discredit Orr
and undermine Orr's investigation in multiple ways. ECF
No. 62-88, 93-94. He first took issue with an intercepted
call, in which the conversation did not suggest criminal
activity until ten pages into the transcription of the call
(which counsel represented to be four minutes). Tr. at 82-83.
In reference to the limited time in which monitors must
determine if a call is pertinent, Orr stated that he
“could not testify to exactly how monitors
minimize” the calls. Tr. at 83. But Orr knew the time
limit could be expanded if the monitors knew the speakers
were individuals “having drug contact.” Tr. at
83. The speakers on the call were Salgado and a
coconspirator. Tr. at 83.
also attempted to discredit the investigation by
demonstrating that the language used on the intercepted calls
could be innocent in nature; the speakers did not mention
drugs or drug trafficking. Tr. at 73-84. But Orr explained
that his training and the context in which the words were
used allowed him to conclude that the speakers were using
coded words for the purpose of drug trafficking. Tr. at
73-84, 438-439, 454-455.
next faulted Orr for failing to determine the identities of a
coconspirators, including one nicknamed Chepe. Tr. at 85,
counsel emphasized that Orr neither witnessed Salgado pass
drugs or drug-related money nor heard Salgado explicitly
speak about the drug-trafficking operation. Tr. At 87- 88,
Orr testified, the government called Jose Antonio
Rangel-Salgado's cousin. Tr. at 103, 136. Rangel was
previously convicted in state court for his involvement in
the drug-trafficking operation. Tr. at 157, 228-230. When
interviewed by law enforcement after his arrest, Rangel
stated that Salgado was involved in the drug-trafficking
operation as a leader. Tr. at 143- 144, 148-149, 169-170,
174-175, 179. Rangel later recanted his statement at trial,
testifying that he implicated Salgado based on his belief
that Salgado had implicated him first. Tr. at 143-144,
148-150, 152-154, 156-158. But, also at trial, Rangel
confirmed that he recognized Salgado's voice on the
intercepted calls played for him during his post-arrest
interviews. Tr. at 180-181, 245. Defense counsel attempted to
give Rangel's trial testimony more effect, emphasizing
that Rangel was under oath at trial but was not under oath
when he gave his previous statements to law enforcement. Tr.
George Carranza from the Reno Police Department testified
next. Tr. at 183. During the Salgado investigation, Carranza
worked as a case agent and was often assigned to the wire
room because he was fluent in Spanish. Tr. at 185. Carranza
listened to the pertinent calls and then shared the pertinent
information with other officers that were working on the
investigation. Tr. at 185-186.
also helped obtain the voice exemplar from Salgado, which he
testified to be a true and accurate recording of
Salgado's voice. Tr. at 187-188. He then identified
Salgado's voice in the wiretapped calls by comparing the
speakers' voices to the voice exemplar. Tr. at 190-193.
He specifically identified Salgado as the speaker on a
wiretapped call that was discussing the transfer of money.
Tr. at 195-197.
of his duties as a case agent, Carranza also assisted with
in-person surveillance and interviews. Tr. at 193-195,
198-200. He testified that he used the GPS information from
the ping orders to assist with the in-person surveillance.
Tr. at 193-194. The information led him to a location at
which Salgado was observed. Tr. at 194 Carranza also
conducted the post-arrest interview of Rangel and authored
the corresponding report detailing Rangel's initial
statements to law enforcement. Tr. at 199-200. During the
post-arrest interview, Rangel implicated Salgado (and other
individuals) during the post-arrest interview and described
Salgado as a “boss figure” within the
drug-trafficking organization. Tr. at 201-205, 243. Carranza
also testified that Rangel did not recant his statements
regarding Salgado despite having multiple opportunities to do
so prior to trial. Tr. at 202-215, 243.
Carranza on the stand, defense counsel attempted to challenge
the investigation again. Tr. at 221-242, 246-247. He
emphasized that Carranza obtained the prior statements from
Rangel while Rangel was not under oath. Tr. at 225. He
underscored Carranza's lack of training in voice
identification and the lack of technology used to compare the
voice exemplar to the wiretapped conversations. Tr. at
233-235. He also highlighted pieces of information on which
the case agents were mistaken during the course of the
investigation, e.g. the identity of a coconspirator
by the nickname Pariente, as well as pieces of information
that the case agents never resolved, e.g. the
identity of a coconspirator by the nickname Chepe. Tr. at
Ruiz testified after Carranza. Tr. at 248. Ruiz worked for
the Joint Language Training Center, which translates and
transcribes materials for federal, state, and local entities.
Tr. at 248-249. Ruiz worked as a linguist on the Salgado
investigation, translating and transcribing the wiretapped
calls. Tr. at 249, 252. He also listened to the voice
exemplar obtained from Salgado and identified Salgado as a
speaker on the wiretapped calls by comparing the voice
exemplar to the speakers' voices. Tr. at 255-256. Defense
counsel objected to the admittance of the transcripts
translated by the Joint Language Training Center, ultimately
arguing that the label “Chepe” was inappropriate.
Tr. at 255, 263. His objection was overruled. Tr. at 263.
government then called Blaine Beard. Tr. at 264. Beard, an
employee of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, worked as
a task force officer for the DEA during the Salgado
investigation. Tr. at 265-266. Beard described the ping
orders and the in-person surveillance previously discussed by
Orr. Tr. at 269-271. Beard explained that the DEA identified
Salgado as a participant in the drug-trafficking operation
through the ping orders and the in-person surveillances. Tr.
at 272-273. The identification of Salgado and his telephone
number helped Beard to apply for the federal wiretap on the
first out-of-state phone number. 274-275, 277. Beard then
used toll records to identify the sixteen telephone numbers
used by the drug-trafficking organization, two of which were
linked to Salgado. Tr. at 267-268, 278. He later explained
that the wiretaps helped confirm Salgado's participation
in the drug-trafficking operation. Tr. at 290-299.
Orr, Beard also testified about the minimization techniques
used during the wiretapping process. Tr. at 287-289. He
explained that the Assistant United States Attorney meets
with each individual that monitors wiretapped calls or
communication to review minimization techniques. Tr. at 287.
He then explained that the most important pertinent calls,
but not all of the pertinent calls, are given to the Joint
Language Training Center for transcription and translation
services. Tr. at 289. According to Beard, the in-person
surveillance, the wiretapped calls, and the nature of the
eight-month investigation helped the case agents identify
which calls involved drug-related conversations and which
calls were the most pertinent to Salgado's case. Tr. at
also testified that the conspirators used code words when
discussing the drug-trafficking organization. Tr. at 320-321.
And Beard eventually executed the search warrant executed at
Rangel's residence in Reno, which resulted in the
discovery of methamphetamine. Tr. at 459-465. He also
initiated Salgado's arrest by contacting and working with
law enforcement in California. Tr. at 465-470.
cross-examination, defense counsel attacked the investigation
again. Tr. at 301-310, 321-322, 324-326. He clarified that
Beard did not see Salgado handle drugs or hear Salgado
discuss the drug-trafficking operation during the in-person
surveillance. Tr. at 301-302, 478. He also highlighted areas
in the investigation in which Beard failed to personally
pursue. Tr. At 303- 310, 321-323, 476-477.
Polson, a Spanish-to-English translator and monitor for
Metlang, testified next. Tr. at 327-328. As a monitor, Polson
created synopses of the wiretapped calls in the Salgado
investigation. Tr. at 327, 329-331. Like Ruiz, Polson used
the voice exemplar obtained from Salgado and compared it to
the wiretapped calls. Tr. at 331-332. She also identified
Salgado as a speaker on the calls. Tr. at 332.
explained that the monitors generated synopses of pertinent
calls. Tr. at 336-352. She further explained that code words
were used, which were often identified by their out-of-place
nature in the context of the conversations. Tr. at 342,
describing the synopses generated by her and her coworkers,
Polson described the minimization techniques used by the
monitors. Tr. at 389-401. She testified that the monitors
received instruction on minimization techniques, which
prohibited certain conversations from being monitored,
e.g. a call with a lawyer. Tr. at 399-400. The
monitors also received a copy of the affidavit that supported
the wiretap application, which Polson reviewed. Tr. at 401,
403. Polson then explained that the case agents share basic
information they know about the “targets, ”
including the target's location and the target's
phone number. Tr. at 390, 400-401. The case agents also share
specific wording to listen ...