48 F.3d 1107 (9th Cir. 1995), 93-10507, United States v. Medjuck

Docket Nº:93-10507, 93-10648.
Citation:48 F.3d 1107
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Michael MEDJUCK, and Arthur John Jung, aka Charles Peter Sotirkys, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:February 03, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 1107

48 F.3d 1107 (9th Cir. 1995)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Michael MEDJUCK, and Arthur John Jung, aka Charles Peter

Sotirkys, Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 93-10507, 93-10648.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

February 3, 1995

Argued and Submitted Oct. 5, 1994.

Page 1108

John J.E. Markham, III and Elizabeth L. Read, Markham & Read, San Francisco, CA, and Abraham D. Sofaer & Steven Corliss, Hughes, Hubbard & Reed, Washington, DC, for defendant-appellant Medjuck.

Arthur K. Wachtel & Deborah E. Lewis, and Doron Weinberg, Weinberg & Wilder, San Francisco, CA, for defendant-appellant Sotirkys.

Kent Walker & Lewis A. Davis, Asst. U.S. Attys., San Francisco, CA, for plaintiff-appellee U.S.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Before: SKOPIL, SCHROEDER and RYMER, Circuit Judges.

SKOPIL, Senior Circuit Judge:

Michael Medjuck and Arthur John Jung, aka Charles Peter Sotirkys (hereinafter "Sotirkys"), appeal from judgments of conviction for violations of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA), 46 U.S.C.App. Secs. 1903-04. They contend that the district

Page 1109

court erred by ruling as a matter of law that statutory and constitutional requirements for assertion of subject matter jurisdiction were satisfied in this case. We agree that the district court erred by not submitting the jurisdictional element of the crime to the jury, and by not requiring the government to demonstrate a sufficient nexus between defendants and the United States to satisfy due process. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.


Medjuck, a Canadian citizen, and Sotirkys, an American citizen, were members of an extensive international conspiracy to smuggle drugs. The conspirators owned and operated a ship, the Saratoga Success, in which they attempted to transport 28 tons of hashish from Pakistan to Canada. The Saratoga Success never reached Canada. After a series of incidents, the ship beached in the Philippines. Sotirkys thereafter met with other conspirators in Amsterdam, the Philippines, and Singapore. They agreed to secure the Lucky Star, a vessel registered in St. Vincent, a sovereign island nation in the British West Indies. They arranged to have the Lucky Star loaded with the 28 tons of hashish from the Saratoga Success and an additional 42 tons of hashish from Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Medjuck and others were responsible for securing a ship to rendezvous with the Lucky Star approximately 800 miles northwest of Midway Island, in order to offload and transport the hashish to Canada. Medjuck financed the hiring of the Barbara H., and her American captain and crew. Unknown to Medjuck, the captain and crew of the Barbara H. were U.S. Customs and FBI undercover agents.

On June 23, 1991, the two ships met, but due to inclement weather and rough seas, only 2.4 tons of hashish were offloaded. The captain of the Lucky Star refused to attempt a second rendezvous, and despite the coconspirators' objections, proceeded back to Asia. After tracking the Lucky Star for several days, two United States Navy destroyers intercepted the vessel. A Coast Guard officer assigned to one of the destroyers sought permission to board the Lucky Star. The captain of the...

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