FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO. Hon. Jay A. Garcí a-Gregory, U.S.
McCutcheon, Research and Writing Specialist, with whom Eric
A. Vos, Federal Public Defender, Vivianne M. Marrero-Torres,
Assistant Federal Public Defender, Supervisor, Appeals
Section, and Patricia A. Garrity, Research and Writing
Specialist, were on brief, for appellant.
Z. Jorgensen, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom
Rosa Emilia Rodrí guez-Vé lez, United States
Attorney, and Nelson Pé rez-Sosa, Assistant United
States Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, were on brief,
Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Lynch, Circuit Judges.
convicted Hector Cardona-Vicente (" Cardona" ) of
two counts of possession of a controlled substance with
to distribute and one count of possession of a firearm in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. On appeal, Cardona
argues that the district court erred in denying his motion to
suppress evidence obtained from him after a police officer,
during the course of a traffic stop, conducted a pat-frisk of
a fanny pack that Cardona was wearing, which contained a
Glock pistol, ammunition, drugs, and cash. Upholding the
district court's finding that the facts were sufficient
to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that Cardona was armed
and dangerous at the time of the pat-frisk, we affirm.
In reviewing the denial of a motion to suppress, '[w]e
recount the relevant facts as the trial court found them,
consistent with record support,'" United States
v. Romain, 393 F.3d 63, 66 (1st Cir. 2004) (alteration
in original) (quoting United States v. Lee, 317 F.3d
26, 30 (1st Cir. 2003)), and " [w]e view the facts in
the light most favorable to the district court's
ruling," United States v. Soares, 521 F.3d 117,
118 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting United States v.
Kimball, 25 F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1994)).
17, 2013, Officer Melvin Martí nez, a fifteen-year
veteran of the Puerto Rico Police Department, was on
motorcycle patrol in Caguas, Puerto Rico. While meeting up
with another police officer in front of the Plaza del Carmen
shopping center, Martí nez saw that the driver of a
nearby black Jeep Cherokee was not wearing a seatbelt, a
violation of Puerto Rico law. Martí nez and his fellow
officer followed the Jeep and initiated a traffic stop.
Inside were the driver, Cardona in the front passenger seat,
and a minor in the back seat.
nez obtained the vehicle's registration from the driver,
who told Martí nez that he did not have his
driver's license. Martí nez then went around the
back of the Jeep to check its registration sticker, known as
a " marbete" and located at the front of the
vehicle, which he did " in a tactical manner so that the
occupants of [the] vehicle would not have a good visibility
regarding as to where [he] was."
rounded the Jeep, Martí nez saw Cardona in the
passenger seat grabbing a fanny pack wrapped around
Cardona's waist in such a way that, based on Martí
nez's experience, led him to believe that there was a gun
in the fanny pack. Cardona appeared to him to be nervous.
Martí nez then asked Cardona if he had a license to
carry a firearm. According to Martí nez, Cardona
" gestured to [him] that he did not." This
testimony was supported by the driver of the Jeep. According
to Special Agent Gabriel Ortiz of Homeland Security
Investigations -- who later interviewed both Cardona and the
driver, and testified during the suppression ...