U.S. v. Sanchez, No. 90-5749

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore FAY and EDMONDSON, Circuit Judges, and HILL; HILL; EDMONDSON
Citation992 F.2d 1143
Docket NumberNo. 90-5749
Decision Date04 June 1993
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Rafael SANCHEZ and Luis Sanchez, Defendants-Appellants.

Page 1143

992 F.2d 1143
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Rafael SANCHEZ and Luis Sanchez, Defendants-Appellants.
No. 90-5749.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eleventh Circuit.
June 4, 1993.

Page 1145

Roy E. Black, Black & Furci, P.A., Miami, FL, for defendants-appellants.

Dexter W. Lehtinen, U.S. Atty., Frank H. Tamen, Kathleen M. Salyer, Linda Collins Hertz, Mary K. Butler, Asst. U.S. Attys., Miami, FL, for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before FAY and EDMONDSON, Circuit Judges, and HILL, Senior Circuit Judge.

HILL, Senior Circuit Judge:

Defendants/Appellants Rafael Sanchez and Luis Sanchez, father and son, were arrested in October, 1988, in South Carolina for alleged local narcotics offenses. The South Carolina charges were dropped and the Sanchezes were extradited to Puerto Rico to face charges for the events which underlie the case now on appeal.

In Puerto Rico, the Sanchezes were charged with six offenses under the Puerto Rico criminal code: destruction (P.R.Laws Ann. tit. 33 § 4334 (1989)); first degree murder (P.R.Laws Ann. tit. 33 § 4002); attempted murder (P.R.Laws Ann. tit. 33 § 3121); unlawful use of explosives (P.R.Laws Ann. tit. 25 § 586); unlawful possession of explosives (P.R.Laws Ann. tit. 25 § 587); and conspiracy to commit murder and to violate the explosives laws (P.R.Laws Ann. tit. 33 § 4523). Following a jury trial in the Superior Court in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Defendants/Appellants were acquitted on all counts.

Shortly thereafter, Defendants/Appellants were indicted in the Southern District of Florida, where they were charged with murder for hire (18 U.S.C. § 1958 (1989)); unlicensed transport of explosives (18 U.S.C. § 842(a)(3)); interstate transport of explosives with intent to injure or kill (18 U.S.C. § 844(d)); and flight to avoid prosecution (18 U.S.C. § 1074). Rafael Sanchez was additionally charged with interstate transport of explosives by a person charged with a criminal offense (18 U.S.C. § 841(i)(1)). Following a jury trial in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Defendants/Appellants were convicted on all counts. 741 F.Supp. 215 (1990).

Both defendants were sentenced to consecutive life sentences for the first three counts and five years' imprisonment on the flight count. Each sentence was followed by five years of supervised release, the terms to be

Page 1146

served concurrently. Rafael Sanchez was additionally fined $75,000 for transportation of explosives by a person charged with a criminal offense. Rafael and Luis Sanchez are currently incarcerated.

Defendants/Appellants filed a timely notice of appeal and now challenge their conviction on numerous grounds. We find all of their arguments on appeal to be without merit with one important exception. The claim that their prosecution in the Southern District of Florida was invalid under the Double Jeopardy Clause has some merit and warrants full discussion. For the reasons stated below, we AFFIRM in part and REVERSE in part the order of the District Court.

I. Factual Background

In January, 1988, Rafael and Luis Sanchez resided in Tavernier, Key Largo, Florida, where Rafael owned a marina and fishing boats and ostensibly ran a lobster fishing operation. The boats were primarily used to further Appellants' marijuana and cocaine smuggling activities. Rafael Sanchez stored some of the narcotics near his home in Tavernier. Luis Sanchez would break drug shipments into marketable quantities and deliver them to distributors and customers.

Brian Williams, now deceased, worked for Rafael as a debt collector and bodyguard and shared a duplex apartment house with Luis Sanchez. Nelson Seda was Rafael's stepson-in-law and one of his customers. Seda was married to Vivian Sanchez, the daughter by a previous marriage of Carmen Sanchez, Rafael's wife.

In the summer of 1985, Seda received from the Sanchezes six ounces of cocaine, which he consumed with a friend, Alfonso Valentin. When Seda and Valentin failed to pay for the cocaine, Appellants met with Valentin and persuaded him to begin repayment. Seda apparently never paid for his share of the cocaine.

In August, 1985, Seda lost his job and began to work at Rafael Sanchez' marina. In late August or early September, 1985, using knowledge he had gained during his association with the Sanchezes, Seda went to Rafael's home and stole a wooden chest containing three kilograms of cocaine. Seda and Valentin consumed part of the cocaine and sold the remainder for $25,000.

Rafael Sanchez suspected Seda of the theft and, after Seda's initial protestation of innocence, subjected Seda and others to a polygraph examination. Seda attempted to skew the polygraph results by coughing each time he was asked about the missing chest. Rafael took no action against Seda immediately following the polygraph.

In 1986, Seda moved to Puerto Rico and dropped out of contact with Rafael and Luis Sanchez. Two years later, in May, 1988, Rafael was visiting Puerto Rico and, by chance, saw Seda. Upon returning to Florida, Rafael told his bodyguard, Brian Williams, that he had seen Seda and that he wanted Seda killed. In June, 1988, Williams approached Antonio Gonzalez, an employee at Rafael's marina, and asked Gonzalez to assist him in assassinating Seda. Gonzalez consented.

Williams and Gonzalez met with Rafael Sanchez at the latter's home, where Rafael explained that he wanted Seda killed for the theft of cocaine. Rafael told Williams and Gonzalez to fly to Puerto Rico and to check into a specified hotel close to Seda's presumed location. Rafael manifested indifference to the method of assassination and gave Williams and Gonzalez a bag containing $5,000. Rafael indicated that Gonzalez and Williams would receive additional payment after successful completion of the job.

Gonzalez and Williams then went to Luis Sanchez's residence and informed Luis that they had agreed to kill Nelson Seda. Luis gave the two a small electronic device which he described as a radio-detonated, remote controlled bomb. Luis took the device apart and demonstrated to Gonzalez and Williams the operation of the arming switch. Luis explained that the device could be detonated by remote control and he instructed Gonzalez and Williams to place the device under the seat or the gas tank of Seda's car.

On June 11, 1988, Gonzalez and Williams flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico. They concealed the bomb in a bag containing diving equipment which was checked and stored in the airplane baggage compartment. After

Page 1147

several days, during which time they made routine telephone reports to the United States, Gonzalez and Williams located Nelson Seda in Mayaguez. On June 19, Williams and Gonzalez drove to the street where Seda lived, parked, and waited for an opportunity to plant the bomb.

As he sat waiting, Williams toggled the unlabeled arming switch on the explosive device while trying to recall which position primed it for detonation. Unfortunately for Williams and Gonzalez, the toggling of the switch moved the mechanism controlling the detonator and the bomb exploded, killing Williams and injuring Gonzalez. Gonzalez was arrested following his release from the hospital and, shortly thereafter, began to cooperate with the Puerto Rican police and the FBI.

Shortly after the bombing accident, Luis Sanchez and a confederate, Frank Cittadini, went to the duplex Luis had shared with Williams and removed a bomb, a silenced pistol, and some gold jewelry. In mid-July of 1988, Luis and Rafael Sanchez moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where they rented a house in the name of Rafael's girlfriend, Kim Burdsall. In August, 1988, Charleston police received information that cocaine was being kept at the Sanchez/Burdsall residence. On September 29, 1988, local police and DEA agents conducted a search of the premises. As a result of this search, all the occupants of the house were arrested for possession of cocaine.

On October 11, while the Sanchezes were incarcerated in South Carolina, the FBI advised local authorities of fugitive warrants which had been issued for Rafael and Luis Sanchez by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The warrants were issued for violations of Puerto Rican law stemming from the bombing incident in Mayaguez. The South Carolina charges were dropped and the Sanchezes transferred to Puerto Rican custody for indictment.

Because the nature of the Puerto Rico prosecution is essential to the disposition of this appeal, we quote at length the charges (as translated) brought by the District Attorney of Puerto Rico:

I. The district attorney brings charges ... for the crime of Violation of Article 198 of the Crim.C. (Destruction), committed as follows: ... Rafael Sanchez and Luis Sanchez, on or about the 20th day of June, 1988, and in Mayaguez, P.R., ... unlawfully, willfully, maliciously and criminally, acting in common accord and by prior agreement with Antonio A. Gonzalez Olmeda and Brian Williams, threatened the life, physical integrity and property of the residents of Alfredo Quintana Street, District of Balboa, in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, causing the detonation of a bomb, which they unlawfully had in their possession and were carrying to the aforementioned location.

II. The district attorney brings charges ... for the crime of Violation of Article 262 of the Crim.C. (Conspiracy), committed as follows: ... Rafael Sanchez and Luis Sanchez, from the 9th to the 20th day of June, 1988, in Florida, U.S.A. and Mayaguez, P.R., ... unlawfully, willfully, maliciously and criminally conspired, along with Antonio Alfredo Gonzalez and Brian Williams, with the intent to commit murder and violate Articles 26 and 27 of Law Number 134, passed on June 28, 1969, Law on Explosives. In said conspiracy, the conspirators realized acts in order to carry out the murder of Nelson P. Seda, consisting in their bringing to Puerto Rico an...

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29 practice notes
  • United States v. Mercado-Flores, Crim. No. 14–466 (GAG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • June 4, 2015
    ...status of Puerto Rico. The Eleventh Circuit and the Puerto Rico Supreme Court agree with his position. See United States v. Sanchez, 992 F.2d 1143, 1151–52 (11th Cir.), on reconsideration, 3 F.3d 366 (11th Cir.1993) (disagreeing with the First Circuit's conclusion that Congress's decision t......
  • United States v. Lebrón-Caceres, CRIMINAL NO. 15-279 (PAD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • January 14, 2016
    ...Likewise, in 1993 the Eleventh Circuit concluded that Puerto Rico is still constitutionally a territory, United States v. Sánchez , 992 F.2d 1143, 1151 (11th Cir.1993), on reconsideration, 3 F.3d 366 (11th Cir.1993), cert denied , 510 U.S. 1110, 114 S.Ct. 1051, 127 L.Ed.2d 373 (1994) ; and ......
  • U.S. v. Acosta Martinez, No. Crim.99-044 SEC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • July 17, 2000
    ...constitutionally remains a territory after 1952. Judge Torruella's view was followed by the Eleventh Circuit in United States v. Sánchez, 992 F.2d 1143, 1151 (11th Cir.1993) to hold that "Puerto Rico is still constitutionally a territory, and not a separate sovereign," for purpose......
  • Morales v. Puerto Rico, Crim. No. 15-1096 (GAG)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • August 11, 2015
    ...Andino in holding "substantially in accord with Judge Torruella's concurrence." Id. at 290-31 (citing United States v. Sanchez, 992 F.2d 1143, 1151 (11th Cir. 1993)). Indeed, the court went as far as to praise the Eleventh Circuit's "exercise of intellectual honesty" in ......
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  • People v. Memro, No. S004770
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 30, 1995
    ...state at the time he or she elicited the statements that would be the subject of later testimony. (See U.S. v. Sanchez (11th Cir.1993) 992 F.2d 1143, 1159-1160, modified 3 F.3d 366.) It is clear that Cornejo testified to further selfish goals, and it appears that he instigated his conversat......
  • U.S. v. Weaselhead, No. 97-4397
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • September 9, 1998
    ...distinct sources of power." Heath v. Alabama, 474 U.S. 82, 88, 106 S.Ct. 433, 88 L.Ed.2d 387 (1985); see also United States v. Sanchez, 992 F.2d 1143, 1149-50 (11th In United States v. Wheeler, 435 U.S. 313, 314, 98 S.Ct. 1079, 55 L.Ed.2d 303 (1978), the question was whether the Double Jeop......
  • United States v. Mercado-Flores, Crim. No. 14–466 (GAG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • June 4, 2015
    ...status of Puerto Rico. The Eleventh Circuit and the Puerto Rico Supreme Court agree with his position. See United States v. Sanchez, 992 F.2d 1143, 1151–52 (11th Cir.), on reconsideration, 3 F.3d 366 (11th Cir.1993) (disagreeing with the First Circuit's conclusion that Congress's decision t......
  • U.S. v. Acosta Martinez, No. Crim.99-044 SEC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • July 17, 2000
    ...constitutionally remains a territory after 1952. Judge Torruella's view was followed by the Eleventh Circuit in United States v. Sánchez, 992 F.2d 1143, 1151 (11th Cir.1993) to hold that "Puerto Rico is still constitutionally a territory, and not a separate sovereign," for purposes of the D......
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