So, how was your halloween experience this year?

Well, no matter how good or bad it was, you probably had a better time than Chelsea’s Miguel Antonio Rivera, 35 (hereinafter, the “Defendant”).

Let’s put it this way…instead of candy, he was given the Commonwealth bracelets of shame. Then, after his subsequent bail hearing, he was ordered held on $200,000 cash bail.

The Defendant’s road to incarceration began in East Boston. According to law enforcement, state and Boston police officers were working off a tip which led them to the Defendant and another man, 49-year-old Santa Cruz of Norwalk, Conneticuit (hereinafter, the “Driver”).

Prosecutors say that the Boston police were doing surveillance on Sumner Street when they saw the black minivan with Maryland plates parked on the wrong side of the road and then make an illegal turn after picking up Rivera.

A pair of state troopers are said to have approached the vehicle, demanding the occupants to get out.

The Defendant, the passenger, refused to get out and, according to the police, instead tried hiding a duffel bag inside one of the van’s compartments before the troopers pulled him out.
Inside the bag, police said they found 15 wrapped bricks of heroin, weighing just under 43 pounds. Authorities price the bag’s content as worth about Five Million Dollars.

Upon his arrest, the Defendant was found to be in possession of three fake Ids, including a Puerto Rico driver’s license and BJ’s card with another man’s name. Upon further checking, it was determined that the Defendant was actually in this country illegally. As a result, even if he should suddenly win the lottery and make his bail amount…he will be going no further than federal custody. You see, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have filed a detainer against him.

In the meantime, the Defendant stands charged with, among other things, trafficking in more than 200 grams of heroin.

The Driver was not arraigned at the same time as the Defendant. However, he was scheduled to be arraigned today to charges of possession with the intent to distribute a Class A drug.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Search, Seizure And Deals

If you are experiencing a feeling of Déjà vu, I should tell you that, yes, this is a similar story to how we ended last week. Then, it was marijuana. Today it is heroin. However, many of the issues are very similar.

As a defense attorney, I have handled many cases like this. It is a fairly common scenario in drug cases, although, each case has its different flavor.

As any regular reader of this daily blog knows, the first thing to examine is whether there is an issue involving the search and seizure of the contraband. In this case, there are such issues. First of all, it seems a bit fuzzy as to what brought the officers’ attention to the vehicle. On one hand, they were allegedly following the word of some “tip”. Next, the Driver suddenly decides to drive illegally.

Isn’t it wonderful how police officers get so lucky? You see, if the minivan was driving in a negligent or illegal manner, that is enough cause for the vehicle to be stopped. So, like the furtive movement we discussed last week, the officers are graced with the good fortune of spying bad driving.

“But, Sam, they apparently had the word of the tipster to bring their attention to the vehicle.”

Yes, but we do not know what that information was or whether the tipster had any inditia of reliability. You see, based upon such criteria, the officers may not have had enough to stop the vehicle.

The search and seizure issues do not stop there. Apparently, the officers ordered the occupants out of the vehicle immediately. There is nothing in the story to indicate a valid reason for doing this. Particularly when it comes to the Defendant. After all, if the Driver is driving illegally, this does not say anything about the Defendant who is only a passenger.

Perhaps sensing this issue that must have been plaguing the officers…the Defendant is said to haved solved the problem for them once again. He makes the suspicious movement (right in front of the police) to hide the bag containing millions of dollars worth of drugs.

You know, sometimes I wonder what these poor beleaguered officers would do if it were not for criminal defendants who seem to sense their pain and provide the perfect legal justification for the resulting searches.

In case there be doubt…that was sarcasm.

There clearly are issues in this case which need to be investigated through the appropriate motions to suppress.

The Defendant may have another problem, should a motion to suppress fail.

You may have noticed that the Driver was arraigned at a different time, later, than the Defendant and his top charges seems to be lower than that facing the Defendant.

Why do you think that is? A coincidence? Well, maybe. But as a criminal defense attorney, I have learned to look at cases through the eyes of a paranoid. Such eyes see the hint of the possibility that the Driver may be making a deal with the prosecution to testify against the Defendant.

Of course, in the end, it will probably not matter very much. Either way, the chances of the Defendant’s returning to Chelsea are quite slim.

You see, if the motion to suppress fails and he is convicted at trial, he will be serving years in state prison. If either the motion to suppress succeeds or he is convicted after trial, he will simply go into federal custody and, most likely, be deported.

The laws regarding immigration are specific to that tribunal and I am certainly not an expert in that area of law. Fortunately, there is a brilliant immigration in our office which answers my questions when they come up.

But, I can tell you this…unless there is a very unlikely exception under which the Defendant falls, he will not be tasting free American air for a very long time.

But, hey, you have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

For the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to

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