867 F.2d 1504 (5th Cir. 1989), 88-1108, United States v. Arzola-Amaya

Docket Nº:88-1108.
Citation:867 F.2d 1504
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Audelio ARZOLA-AMAYA, Santiago Rosas-Arzola, Edward V. Maynard, Edison Alvarez, Jorge Humberto Salazar and Jesus Estrada-Hernandez, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:March 08, 1989
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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867 F.2d 1504 (5th Cir. 1989)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Audelio ARZOLA-AMAYA, Santiago Rosas-Arzola, Edward V.

Maynard, Edison Alvarez, Jorge Humberto Salazar

and Jesus Estrada-Hernandez,

Defendants-Appellants.

No. 88-1108.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

March 8, 1989

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Charles Louis Roberts, El Paso, Tex., for Audelio Arzola-Amaya & maynard.

Earl Hanson, Los Angeles, Cal., for Santiago Rosa-Arzola.

Gary B. Weiser, El Paso, Tex., Harold Greenberg, Los Angeles, Cal., for Alvarez.

Luis E. Islas, El Paso, Tex., for Salazar.

Jesus Javier Estrada-Hernandez, Bastrop, Tex., pro se.

Thomas J. McHugh, LeRoy Morgan Jahn, Asst. U.S. Attys., San Antonio, Tex., for U.S.

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

Before POLITZ and JOLLY, Circuit Judges, and HUNTER [*], District Judge.

EDWIN F. HUNTER, Jr., District Judge:

On September 16, 1988, the grand jury for the El Paso Division of the Western District of Texas returned a superseding indictment charging Audelio Arzola-Amaya ("Arzola-Amaya") as a principal administrator, organizer, and the leader of a continuing criminal enterprise, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 848(b). In addition, all six Appellants, Arzola-Amaya, Santiago Rosas-Arzola ("Rosas-Arzola"), Edward V. Maynard, Edison Alvarez, Jorge Humberto Salazar, and Jesus Estrada-Hernandez ("Estrada-Hernandez") were charged with conspiracy to possess a quantity of cocaine in excess of five kilograms with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846 (Count 2), and with the sustantive offense of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Appellants Arzola-Amaya, Rosas-Arzola, Alvarez, Salazar and Estrada-Hernandez were also charged with conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute, as well as the substantive offense of possession of marijuana.

Arzola-Amaya was also charged with subscribing to a false tax return in violation of 26 U.S.C. Sec. 7206(1) (Counts 17, 18 and 19).

All six Appellants were tried together. Each was convicted and sentenced as follows:

Arzola-Amaya, convicted on 18 counts: conducting a continuing criminal enterprise; possession of cocaine with intent to distribute; conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute; possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; and subscribing to a false income tax return, for a net sentence of life imprisonment, a fine of $1,000,000 and $450 in assessments.

Rosas-Arzola, convicted of conspiracy to possess in excess of five kilograms of cocaine, for which he received a term of imprisonment of seven years and a $50 assessment.

Maynard, convicted on one count of conspiracy to possess in excess of five kilograms of cocaine, for which he received a term of imprisonment of ten years and a $50 assessment.

Alvarez, convicted of possession of more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, for a net

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sentence of 15 years imprisonment followed by a 5 year special parole term and $100 in assessments.

Salazar, convicted of possession of more than 5 kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, for a net sentence of 15 years imprisonment followed by a special parole term of 5 years and $100 in assessments.

Estrada-Hernandez, convicted of conspiracy to possess in excess of 5 kilograms of cocaine; possession of more than 5 kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute; conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute; and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, for a net sentence of 15 years imprisonment followed by a 5 year special parole term and $400 in assessments.

On appeal, each raises myriad grounds for reversal. After examining all of their arguments, however, we find no cause to reverse their convictions and therefore affirm the trial court's judgment.

THE "ORGANIZATION"--AN OVERVIEW

The indictment and convictions of Appellants arose from the activities of the Audelio Arzola-Amaya drug trafficking organization. The evidence reveals that during the period of time (1980 through 1987), Arzola-Amaya's trafficking of cocaine and marijuana grew from a small one man enterprise into a very large organization, international in scope. Cocaine was its primary commodity. Cash was its main staple. Arzola-Amaya's participation went from cocaine source for street dealers to chief executive officer of a multi-national operation, distributing over 500 kilos of cocaine a month at the time of his arrest.

The government's case included the testimony of Robert Marquez, Albino Renteria, Teresa and William Anchondo, each of whom worked as a cocaine distributor for Arzola-Amaya. Other witnesses corroborated the details of their testimony. The June 1987 Montoya Street incident which the trial judge described as "one of those coincidences that would seem too far fetched if used in fiction"--removed all doubts as to the enterprise and the major participants.

Unfortunately for appellants, the intricate web of illegal activity engaged in by the Arzola-Amaya drug trafficking organization began to unfold in October and November of 1985 when Robert Marquez, an unindicted co-conspirator, contacted the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") by letter from his cell in a Texas Department of Corrections Prison, relating information he possessed. He had been incarcerated following his conviction and sentencing in July of 1985 for delivery of cocaine. The source of this cocaine was Arzola-Amaya. After reading in the newspaper about two large cocaine seizures, and being motivated by fear of further implication in the activities of the Arzola-Amaya organization, Marquez met with DEA agents and informed them that the cocaine confiscated in these seizures belonged to the Arzola-Amaya organization which was "moving" 500 kilos of cocaine a month. Marquez had been associated with Arzola-Amaya since 1978. He paid Arzola-Amaya between $300,000 and $500,000 for cocaine in 1983 and approximately $500,000 in 1984.

In 1980, co-defendant Albino Renteria 1 worked as a television repairman for his uncle, Thomas Marquez. During this same period of time, while residing in Big Spring, Texas, he worked as a cocaine distributor for Arzola-Amaya. Renteria was initially recruited into the narcotics business by his cousin, Tony Marquez, who introduced him to Arzola-Amaya.

Renteria's role in the organization was to act as a courier. 2 His first two trips involved

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working directly under Tony Marquez. At that time, it appears that the organization was just getting started. Arzola-Amaya tried to borrow money from Tony Marquez to buy a kilogram of cocaine. Tony Marquez refused to give Arzola-Amaya money; he did not trust him.

Some time later, Tony Marquez again approached Renteria and recruited him to transport cocaine directly for Arzola-Amaya. Renteria and Arzola-Amaya met in El Paso. They discussed Renteria's transporting cocaine. Renteria agreed and Arzola-Amaya gave him a piece of paper on which were written his beeper number and the address, "1205 Overland". 3 He was instructed to call upon his return from Miami and to meet again in El Paso.

In 1981, Renteria made his first of many trips to Miami. There, he met Arzola-Amaya's source of cocaine, Colombian drug dealer Armando Ramirez. Ramirez and Renteria wrapped the cocaine and put it in a suitcase with women's clothing. Filling the suitcase with women's clothing was a technique utilized by this group to disassociate the male courier from the cocaine which was secreted inside the suitcase in the event of a seizure or discovery.

Renteria returned to El Paso on the same flight as Ramirez. They sat apart on the plane and never acknowledged one another's presence. They traveled this way so that in the event the courier, Renteria, were arrested, Ramirez would not be associated with him. Once in El Paso, Renteria delivered the cocaine to Arzola-Amaya. The sole basis for the relationship between Renteria and his boss, Amaya, was drug dealing, and Renteria's only involvement in the organization was as a drug courier.

Altogether, Renteria made seven round trips to Miami as a courier for Arzola-Amaya. On these trips, he would generally follow the same modus operandi: take large sums of cash to cocaine sources, Ramirez and later co-defendant German Orozco, in Miami; 4 bring back between one and four kilograms of cocaine, sitting apart from his companion, if any, on the return flights from Miami, and deliver the cocaine to Arzola-Amaya. On one occasion, Arzola-Amaya instructed Renteria to fly to Miami; pick up four kilograms of cocaine; fly back to El Paso; leave two kilograms of cocaine; and take the remaining two kilograms to California. Arzola-Amaya's brother, co-defendant Manuel Rosas Arzola-Amaya, was to sell the two kilograms of cocaine in California for Arzola-Amaya. 5

About this time, Renteria approached Arzola-Amaya about quitting the organization, but according to his testimony, Arzola-Amaya threatened to kill him if this occurred. Renteria proposed that his sister-in-law, Teresa Anchondo, would be a good candidate to transport drugs in his stead and would take his place. Arzola-Amaya agreed provided Renteria accompanied her on the first trip to Miami. Renteria and Teresa Anchondo made a trip to Miami together in May of 1983 and returned with a suitcase packed with cocaine wrapped in a gauze or fiber glass-like material. The cocaine was delivered to Arzola-Amaya as before. The trip was Renteria's last for Arzola-Amaya, but Teresa Anchondo later made five more trips to Miami...

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