669 F.2d 241 (5th Cir. 1982), 80-1377, United States v. Chagra

Docket Nº:80-1377.
Citation:669 F.2d 241
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Jamiel Alexander CHAGRA, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:March 03, 1982
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 241

669 F.2d 241 (5th Cir. 1982)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Jamiel Alexander CHAGRA, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 80-1377.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

March 3, 1982

Page 242

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 243

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 244

Joseph S. Chagra, El Paso, Tex., Oscar B. Goodman, Las Vegas, Nev., for defendant-appellant.

LeRoy Morgan Jahn, Asst. U. S. Atty., San Antonio, Tex., for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Before INGRAHAM and TATE, Circuit Judges. [*]

INGRAHAM, Circuit Judge:

After a jury trial in the Western District of Texas, Jamiel Alexander Chagra was convicted of aiding and abetting the possession of cocaine by another and operating a continuing criminal enterprise in violation of sections 401(a)(1) and 408 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (the 1970 Drug Act), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 848. The district court imposed a sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $125,000, and a life-time special parole term. We affirm the judgment of conviction in its entirety but modify the sentence imposed by the district court.

I. BACKGROUND TO THIS APPEAL

A. Facts of the Crimes. 1

The evidence introduced at trial demonstrated that appellant had supervised several large scale narcotics importation and distribution operations. Most of the evidence related to events taking place during or after the summer of 1977.

During the summer of 1977, appellant met with Henry Wallace, an unindicted coconspirator, and several other persons at the home of Charlie McCord in El Paso, Texas, to resolve some difficulties appellant was encountering in collecting his share of the proceeds from the importation of 1,800 pounds of marijuana into the United States from Mexico. 2 At this meeting, appellant informed Wallace that appellant had been in charge of this operation, owned the plane used to smuggle the marijuana into the United States, and employed the pilot, Jerry Wilson, but had not received his share of the load, 1,000 pounds, from Leslie Harris and McCord, two others involved in the scheme. Wallace agreed personally to assume an indebtedness to appellant of up to approximately $150,000 in cash, goods, or services, less the cost of the marijuana, to ensure appellant that he would receive his share. Appellant agreed, and Harris and McCord paid the Mexican source of the

Page 245

marijuana $50,000. Several weeks later, Wallace delivered six ounces of cocaine worth about $7,200 to appellant as partial payment on his indebtedness. Appellant later asked Wallace to arrange another airplane smuggling operation from Mexico, this time involving 2,000 pounds of marijuana, as a further debt payment. Wilson was again to pilot the plane. Wallace agreed.

This operation was not immediately undertaken because Wilson's plane was disabled. Appellant and Wallace along with Eddie Mitchell, allegedly appellant's cousin, therefore met in Berino, New Mexico, at Wallace's home and devised another scheme. They planned to smuggle six kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to the United States to boost appellant's finances which had sagged because of two failed importation ventures. One planeload of narcotics had crashed in Colombia and another had been seized by law enforcement authorities in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Appellant estimated that each kilogram would cost approximately $10,000. Wallace agreed to make the financial and transportation arrangements in the United States and appellant agreed to organize matters in Colombia. In late summer, Wallace raised over $20,000 from several individuals to fund the operation, recruited a new pilot, Jim French, because appellant had lost confidence in Wilson, purchased a new airplane in the name of one of the operation's investors, Richard Young, and had fuel tanks installed on the plane to extend its flying range. Appellant, however, had some difficulty in arranging matters in Colombia, and at a meeting with Wallace in October at appellant's Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, home, appellant convinced Wallace to replace Mitchell in Colombia. Appellant and Wallace also discussed using the proceeds from the cocaine importation scheme to finance a later marijuana sea smuggling operation.

Using false identification papers to avoid any difficulty in obtaining a passport because he was a convicted felon, Wallace obtained a passport under the name of Robert D. Rosson, an alias he had previously used, and flew to Colombia. Wallace's instructions were to send Mitchell home, to obtain the cocaine and a landing site through Lionel Gomez, appellant's source of marijuana for previous schemes, 3 and to meet the plane when it arrived. Gomez was unwilling to supply appellant with cocaine on credit, however, because of several past failures, but he did introduce Wallace to Raul Royce whom Gomez thought might be willing to extend credit to appellant. Royce agreed to extend the necessary credit for the cocaine so long as Wallace agreed to remain in Colombia. Wallace agreed, and Royce later delivered six kilograms of cocaine to Gomez for Wallace.

Wallace then called William Dudley Connell in the United States, from whom Wallace had earlier but unsuccessfully sought to obtain funds for the cocaine scheme, to obtain money for payment to Royce. Connell was still unable to offer any financial assistance but he did contact Paul Taylor to determine whether Taylor might be interested in investing. After talking with Connell, Taylor left for Colombia to observe the operation. Taylor remained in Colombia only briefly, paid some of Wallace's bills, and then returned to the United States to discuss the operation with Connell.

In the United States, appellant attempted to interest several persons in importing narcotics. Appellant, French, and Taylor then flew to Colombia to pick up the cocaine. Wallace remained in Colombia to organize the importation of a boatload of marijuana.

Unable to convince either Gomez or Royce to extend credit for this operation, in late November or early December Wallace arranged with Jose Barros for 30,000 pounds of marijuana to be shipped aboard the DONA PETRA to Florida. Appellant expected to sell this marijuana for $250 per pound in 1,000 pound lots. Barros extended credit to appellant for almost all of the $2,400,000 purchase price. After Barros and appellant personally discussed the transaction by telephone, the marijuana was loaded aboard the DONA PETRA in

Page 246

mid-to late December and it set sail for Florida under the control of a boat captain supplied by appellant. Royce then permitted Wallace to leave Colombia after Wallace convinced Royce to accompany him to the United States to collect the $180,000 debt owed Royce. Both left Colombia for the United States and met with appellant on Christmas Day at appellant's home. Royce collected $40,000 of the amount owed him and returned to Colombia a few days later.

After returning to the United States, appellant sold Connell and Taylor one kilo of cocaine for $70,000 on credit in November and also agreed to earmark the profit from the sale of 5,000 pounds of marijuana for them. In early 1978, appellant also gave Young two ounces of the cocaine to sell at $1,500 per ounce. After selling some of the cocaine, Young exchanged the remainder and the proceeds from the portion already sold for four other ounces because the first two ounces were of poor quality.

The DONA PETRA arrived off the Florida coast in December of 1977. While searching for the DONA PETRA, appellant discovered two other marijuana laden freighters, the MISS CONNIE and the ECOPESCA IV, in the Caribbean, and obtained permission to unload them. Unloading took place in two stages. The marijuana was first transferred from the freighters to large sport fishing boats, such as the MASTER PLAN, and was then transferred to smaller boats for final transportation to Florida. Appellant was assisted in this part of the operation by Hamilton Judd Myers, a professional boat captain hired by appellant to ferry him around the unloading area. 4 Under this plan, appellant was able to import 24,000 pounds of marijuana before the Coast Guard seized the mother ships MISS CONNIE and ECOPESCA IV and their remaining marijuana on December 27. The Coast Guard seized the DONA PETRA on December 30 before it could be unloaded, however.

Shortly thereafter, Wallace returned to South America to set up another marijuana shipment. Appellant again intended to smuggle 30,000 pounds of marijuana into the United States. Wallace gave Royce $130,000 in payment for cocaine and left radio navigational equipment and a boat captain in Colombia for the voyage. In return, Royce gave Wallace three kilograms of cocaine on credit, which Wallace in turn gave to appellant upon returning to Florida.

Wallace then left Florida for Texas in January 1978 to take care of some outstanding business for appellant. This included paying some of appellant's outstanding debts as well as threatening Connell should he and Taylor fail to pay appellant the $70,000 they owed appellant for the kilogram of cocaine. Returning to Florida later that month, Wallace assisted appellant in receiving and unloading boatloads of marijuana from Colombia. Wallace later returned to El Paso after receiving three kilograms of cocaine from John Quintoni, an associate of appellant's who often acted as appellant's "banker," and $140,000 in cash from appellant himself, $100,000 of which was for Wallace and $40,000 of which was for appellant's mother. Wallace again assisted appellant in later marijuana unloading operations off the Florida coast before finally breaking off business relations with appellant.

B. Proceedings in the District Court.

On February 26, 1979, the federal grand jury for the Midland-Odessa Division of the Western District of Texas returned an...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP
120 practice notes
  • 188 So.3d 713 (Ala.Crim.App. 2015), CR-14-0720, Tucker v. Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 14, 2015
    ...upon either the grace of the detaining authority or some affirmative statutory entitlement. United States v. Chagra, 669 F.2d 241, 264 (5th Cir. 1982). While no constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released prior to the expiration of......
  • 467 So.2d 387 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 1985), 84-1671, State v. Montgomery
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals Third District
    • March 26, 1985
    ...held that the balancing of interests concerning who and when to prosecute should be left to the executive branch. United States v. Chagra, 669 F.2d 241, 261 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 846, 103 S.Ct. 102, 74 L.Ed.2d 92 (1982). See also Thevis; Turkish. Courts have also rejected the v......
  • 981 P.2d 280 (N.M.App. 1999), 19,105, State v. Rael
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • April 6, 1999
    ...wealth, and the legitimate sources of his income."). {21} Defendant also argues, relying on Penny and United States v. Chagra, 669 F.2d 241 (5th Cir.1982), that the admission of evidence of his wealth was too broad because there was no indication that it was acquired during the period ......
  • 487 A.2d 1320 (Pa. 1985), Commonwealth v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • February 21, 1985
    ...himself. At most he could impose sanctions if a witness was not immunized because of prosecutorial misconduct); United States v. Chagra, 669 F.2d 241 (5th Cir.1982), ("[A] district court does not possess the statutory, common law, or inherent authority either to grant use immunity to a......
  • Free signup to view additional results
118 cases
  • 188 So.3d 713 (Ala.Crim.App. 2015), CR-14-0720, Tucker v. Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 14, 2015
    ...upon either the grace of the detaining authority or some affirmative statutory entitlement. United States v. Chagra, 669 F.2d 241, 264 (5th Cir. 1982). While no constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released prior to the expiration of......
  • 467 So.2d 387 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 1985), 84-1671, State v. Montgomery
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals Third District
    • March 26, 1985
    ...held that the balancing of interests concerning who and when to prosecute should be left to the executive branch. United States v. Chagra, 669 F.2d 241, 261 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 846, 103 S.Ct. 102, 74 L.Ed.2d 92 (1982). See also Thevis; Turkish. Courts have also rejected the v......
  • 981 P.2d 280 (N.M.App. 1999), 19,105, State v. Rael
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • April 6, 1999
    ...wealth, and the legitimate sources of his income."). {21} Defendant also argues, relying on Penny and United States v. Chagra, 669 F.2d 241 (5th Cir.1982), that the admission of evidence of his wealth was too broad because there was no indication that it was acquired during the period ......
  • 487 A.2d 1320 (Pa. 1985), Commonwealth v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • February 21, 1985
    ...himself. At most he could impose sanctions if a witness was not immunized because of prosecutorial misconduct); United States v. Chagra, 669 F.2d 241 (5th Cir.1982), ("[A] district court does not possess the statutory, common law, or inherent authority either to grant use immunity to a......
  • Free signup to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Revisiting the Right to a Speedy Trial: Reconciling the Sixth Amendment with The Speedy Trial Act
    • United States
    • Capital University Law Review Nbr. 47-1, January 2019
    • January 1, 2019
    ...1998) (determination of whether to prosecute is “within broad limits, a prerogative of the Executive Branch”); United States v. Chagra, 669 F.2d 241, 247 (5th Cir. 1982) (constitutional authority for faithful execution of laws textually committed to executive branch). 2Wayte v. United State......