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Gamboa v. EOUSA, No. 12-1220, 2015 WL 5158829 (D.D.C. Sept. 1, 2015) (Leon, J.)


Gamboa v. EOUSA, No. 12-1220, 2015 WL 5158829 (D.D.C. Sept. 1, 2015) (Leon, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning money laundering and cocaine trafficking offenses for which plaintiff was ultimately convicted

Disposition: Granting defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment

  • Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records:  "Presented with no arguments to the contrary, the Court . . . concludes that the DEA conducted a reasonable search for the material contained within plaintiff's FOIA request."  The court relates that "[t]he DEA's declarant explains that, even though the agency had 'insufficient information to locate the requested records, a FOIA information specialist conducted a NADDIS [the index and the practical means by which DEA retrieves investigative reports and information,] query using plaintiff's name, date of birth and social security number[.]'"  In response to plaintiff's arguments, the court finds that "[t]he propriety of the alleged seizure and forfeiture of currency are not matters within the scope of the FOIA."  "More importantly, none of plaintiff's submissions addresses, let alone undermines, the DEA's showing that its search for the two lab reports plaintiff originally requested was reasonable."
  • Exemption 7(D):  "The Court . . . finds that defendants properly asserted FOIA Exemption 7(D) to protect the identities of informants who proffered information under circumstances of implied confidentiality."  The court relates that, "[f]irst, the FBI withheld 'the identity of a specific business entity/service provider' which, in response to an administrative subpoena, supplied 'the FBI specific information pertaining to a business transaction executed by plaintiff.'"  "The FBI's declarant states that, '[a]lthough the business transaction in this ... instance was not illegal, the money used in the transaction was suspected to be the proceeds of an illegal business.'"  "Second, the FBI withheld 'the names [of], identifying information [about], [and] information provided by third party individuals who were interviewed under circumstances in which an assurance of confidentiality may be inferred.'"  "These individuals, the declarant explains, 'had direct access to and/or knowledge about plaintiff's and his associates' criminal activities pertaining to drug trafficking and other criminal activity of a violent nature.'"  "Lastly, the FBI withheld 'the identity [of] and/or information provided by local law enforcement personnel and/or agency.'"  The court relates that "[t]he FBI's declarant further states that '[t]hese sources were in ... position[s with] ready access to and/or knowledge about the plaintiff's and his associates' involvement in drug trafficking and/or other violent crimes,' and that they routinely 'provided information at great risk to their safety and the safety of their families.'"
  • Exemption 7(F):  "[T]he Court concludes that the FBI adequately justified its decision to withhold information under Exemption 7(F)."  The court relates that "the FBI's declarant cites plaintiff's status as 'the leader of a drug trafficking enterprise which involved money laundering and other criminal activities of a violent nature,' and the multi-national breadth of the trafficking enterprise."  Additionally, "'[g]iven the propensity of violence in the trade of illicit substances and the conviction of the plaintiff,' the FBI asserts that 'there is a reasonable expectation that the release of the identifying information of such individuals would pose a danger to their life or physical safety.'"  The court finds that "[a]side from his broad, and unsupported, assertions that defendants' FOIA withholdings were inappropriate, . . . plaintiff fails to show that defendants' reliance on Exemption 7(F) is improper."  "Nor, for that matter, does plaintiff rebut defendants' credible assertions that the release of the requested information could pose a substantial safety risk to the individuals involved."
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Obligation:  "Based on all the supporting declarations and Vaughn indices filed in this case, the Court concludes that the agencies adequately specify 'which portions of the document[s] are disclosable and which are ... exempt.'"
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7(D)
Exemption 7(F)
Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records
Procedural Requirements, “Reasonably Segregable” Obligation
Updated January 12, 2022