869 F.2d 9 (1st Cir. 1989), 88-1468, United States v. Jimenez-Perez

Docket Nº:88-1468 to 88-1471.
Citation:869 F.2d 9
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Joaquin JIMENEZ-PEREZ, Defendant, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Jose CABEZA-SOLANO, Defendant, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Melecio PERLAZA, Defendant, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Cristobal GONZALEZ-PARRA, Defendant, Appellant.
Case Date:March 06, 1989
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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Page 9

869 F.2d 9 (1st Cir. 1989)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,

v.

Joaquin JIMENEZ-PEREZ, Defendant, Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,

v.

Jose CABEZA-SOLANO, Defendant, Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,

v.

Melecio PERLAZA, Defendant, Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,

v.

Cristobal GONZALEZ-PARRA, Defendant, Appellant.

Nos. 88-1468 to 88-1471.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

March 6, 1989

Heard Feb. 9, 1989.

As Amended March 10, 1989.

Frederic Chardon Dubos, for defendants, appellants Melecio Perlaza and Cristobal Gonzalez-Parra.

Ramon Garcia Garcia, San Juan, P.R., for defendant, appellant Jose Cabeza-Solano.

Lydia Lizarribar-Masini, by Appointment of the Court, for defendant, appellant Joaquin Jimenez-Perez.

Jorge E. Vega-Pacheco, Asst. U.S. Atty., San Juan, P.R., Criminal Div., with whom Daniel F. Lopez-Romo, U.S. Atty., Hato Rey, P.R., and Jose R. Gaztambide, Asst. U.S. Atty., Rio Piedras, P.R., Criminal Div., were on brief for U.S.

Before CAMPBELL, Chief Judge, and TORRUELLA and SELYA, Circuit Judges.

SELYA, Circuit Judge.

Appellants, along with eight codefendants, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that, in circumstances subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, they aided and abetted each other in the possession of marijuana on board a vessel on the high seas, intending to distribute the weed. See 46 U.S.C.App. Sec. 1903; 18 U.S.C.

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Sec. 2. After being found guilty by a petit jury, they have now appealed. There is neither need nor cause to wax longiloquent. In our judgment, it is impossible to attribute the slightest merit to any of appellants' assignments of error. Accordingly, we affirm.

I

All four appellants assert that the trial evidence was too meagre to sustain the verdicts. The barrier which confronts a sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge in a criminal case is a formidable one: in a proceeding such as this, an appellate court must take the facts in the light most congenial to the prosecution, drawing all reasonable inferences in its favor. United States v. Ingraham, 832 F.2d 229, 230 (1st Cir.1987), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 108 S.Ct. 1738, 100 L.Ed.2d 202 (1988); United States v. Cintolo, 818 F.2d 980, 983 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 108 S.Ct. 259, 98 L.Ed.2d 216 (1987). On this record, appellants cannot conceivably scale such a barrier. We explain why, in capsulated form.

This case involves an aborted large-scale marijuana smuggle. The involvement of the four appellants in the affair (or, as they would have it, the lack of any) was similar. Given the proof, the jury could have found that from twelve to fourteen men were present aboard a 60-foot converted shrimper (the "PORFIN"); that the vessel and its complement had been at sea for five or six days, with journey's end not yet in sight; that she was in international waters when boarded; that over 400 bales of marijuana, weighing approximately 37,000 pounds, were stowed in an unlocked, easily accessible hold; that a distinctive odor, emanating from the marijuana, was detectable in the area where the men slept; and that, when the Coast Guard sought to board, some dissembling was attempted. As to the PORFIN itself, the evidence showed that she flew no flag; that she lacked, bow or stern, the customary emblematic emblazonment of a designated home port; that she was so laden as to be riding unusually low in the water; that she carried neither fishing gear nor any legitimate cargo; and that she was outfitted with sophisticated electronic equipment. There was also evidence that most of the...

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