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United States v. Diaz-Rosado

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

May 16, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
JOSÉ R. DÍAZ-ROSADO, Defendant, Appellee.

         APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO [Hon. Francisco A. Besosa, U.S. District Judge]

          Richard C. Klugh on brief for appellant.

          John A. Mathews II, Assistant United States Attorney, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, and Mariana E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, on brief for appellee.

          Before Torruella, Lipez, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          BARRON, Circuit Judge.

         On August 15, 2013, José Díaz-Rosado ("Díaz") was indicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida for his role in planning and organizing a maritime smuggling operation involving over 1, 000 kilograms of cocaine. Five days later, Díaz was indicted again -- this time, in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico -- for his role in planning and organizing a maritime smuggling operation involving over 1, 000 kilograms of cocaine. Díaz contends that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution bars his prosecution on the Puerto Rico charges because the Florida charges already encompass the conduct for which he was indicted in Puerto Rico. For the reasons set forth below, we reject this challenge and affirm the decision of the District Court to deny Díaz's motion to dismiss the Puerto Rico indictment on double jeopardy grounds.

         I.

         Because Díaz's double jeopardy challenge to the Puerto Rico indictment hinges in part on the procedural history of the Florida case, we first need to describe the two indictments and their subsequent travel in some detail. We will then be well positioned to explain why we are unpersuaded that the Puerto Rico indictment must be dismissed on double jeopardy grounds.

         A.

         On August 6, 2012, federal agents intercepted a vessel carrying approximately 1, 032 kilograms of cocaine off the coast of Guayama, Puerto Rico.[1] The vessel was registered to Díaz, who had rented a dock for it in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. The government later determined that Díaz also hired the vessel's two-man crew: Jorge Suárez-Albelo and Joel Perpiña-Quiles. Although Díaz was not on board at the time of its seizure, he and another individual were responsible for following behind the vessel in a separate boat.

         Roughly five months later, on December 30, 2012, federal authorities intercepted a second vessel off the coast of St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands -- this one carrying approximately 1, 157 kilograms of cocaine. This vessel had a different two-man crew: José De León and Wilson Concepción. Díaz had purchased this second vessel. He also had directed an associate -- who later became a confidential source of the Broward County, Florida, Sherriff's Office -- to purchase two outboard motors for it.

         The December seizure formed the basis for a one-count indictment filed against Díaz in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on August 15, 2013. Díaz was charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(A)(ii). Díaz pleaded guilty several months later.

         During sentencing, the Florida district court relied on both the August and December seizures as evidence that Díaz was responsible for trafficking 2, 189 kilograms of cocaine. The Florida district court also applied a four-level sentencing enhancement under § 3B1.1(a) of the United States Sentencing Guidelines for acting as the organizer or leader of a criminal activity involving five or more participants, and a two-level sentencing enhancement under § 3C1.1 of the Guidelines for obstruction of justice for encouraging the confidential source to lie to government investigators. Díaz was initially sentenced to life in prison.

         Five days after Díaz was indicted in Florida, the government filed a two-count indictment against him in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. Based on the August seizure, the Puerto Rico indictment charged Díaz with one count of conspiracy to import more than five kilograms of cocaine into the United States, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 952, 960, and 963, and one count of conspiracy to possess ...


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