FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO [Hon. Francisco A. Besosa, U.S. District Judge]
Víctor A. Ramos-Rodríguez, with whom Wilfredo
Díaz-Narváez, were on brief, for appellant.
A. Schwartz, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Rosa
Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney,
and Mariana E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States
Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, were on brief, for
Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Barron, Circuit Judges.
TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.
a trial, Leoner Martínez-Lantigua
("Martínez") was found guilty of conspiracy
to possess with intent to distribute and possession with
intent to distribute at least 15 kilograms but less than 50
kilograms of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and 846. Martínez was sentenced
to 121 months of imprisonment. Martínez appeals,
contending that the evidence was insufficient for his
conspiracy conviction and there were errors at his trial.
Because the entire drug deal was captured on video and audio
--which show Martínez inspecting the drugs with his
own hands -- we find that there was sufficient evidence to
convict Martínez. We also find Martínez's
claims that there were errors at his trial to be without
merit. We therefore affirm.
6, 2014, a confidential informant told Homeland Security
Investigations ("HSI") agents that a money
laundering and drug trafficking organization was seeking
assistance to transport cocaine from St. Thomas to Puerto
Rico. That same day, an HSI undercover agent (the
"Agent"), acting as a facilitator, called the
organization and coordinated a meeting to discuss the
7, the Agent met with Oscar De la Cruz ("De la
Cruz") and Pedro Wipp-Kelley ("Wipp-Kelley")
in Piñones, Puerto
to discuss the venture and agreed that, in exchange for
transporting the narcotics, they would pay the Agent $1, 000
per kilogram of cocaine in transportation fees, plus $5, 000
in fuel and travel expenses. During a series of recorded
calls and meetings, they ultimately agreed to have the Agent
transport 48 kilograms of cocaine and provided him with a
Blackberry and the phone number of Erasmo
("Martínez-Trinidad"), who had the narcotics
in St. Thomas. The Agent travelled to St. Thomas and
successfully arranged the delivery of the narcotics.
Agent called Wipp-Kelley on July 12 to arrange the location
for the exchange. The exchange took place at the
Martínez Nadal Train Station parking lot, in San Juan,
Puerto Rico, and was recorded on video; accompanying audio
was provided through a body wire that the Agent was wearing.
controlled delivery involved four cars. Wipp-Kelley messaged
the Agent and informed him that Wipp-Kelley would be driving
a grey Nissan, and that he would be with somebody (who was
later identified as Carlos Carmona). Wipp-Kelley also
informed the Agent that a second vehicle, a white Altima,
would be involved in the transaction. It would later turn out
that Martínez would be driving this Altima, with his
friend Ramón Coplin in the passenger seat. Another
undercover agent would drive a small SUV to the transaction
with the Agent in the passenger seat. The sham cocaine would
be located in a separate red undercover vehicle (the agents
naturally did not bring the real cocaine to the transaction).
The money would be put into the small SUV, and
Martínez would drive away in the red undercover
vehicle that contained the narcotics.
transaction followed this plan (except, of course, that the
conspirators were arrested before they could drive away). The
Agent got out of the SUV and approached Wipp-Kelley's
vehicle, the grey Nissan. Wipp-Kelley told the Agent that the
bag containing the $43, 000 was in the rear seat of this grey
Nissan. After the Agent inspected the bag of money and
confirmed its contents, Carmona placed it in the small SUV.
The Agent then approached the white Altima. Martínez
was in the driver's seat, and Coplin in the passenger
seat. The Agent asked Martínez whether he was going to
drive the red vehicle and Martínez nodded his head.
The Agent asked Martínez whether anyone was going
"to check that, " referring to the sham narcotics
in the vehicle. Martínez replied "[o]h,
okay." Both Martínez and Coplin approached the
Agent's vehicle to inspect the bags and the Agent opened
the trunk. The Agent opened the bag containing the bricks of
sham cocaine to show them to Martínez. Martínez
looked into the trunk, reached into the trunk, and touched
the sham narcotics. After Martínez had completed this
inspection of the sham cocaine, the Agent closed the trunk of
the vehicle, which signaled federal agents to arrest the
the arrest, Martínez waived his Miranda rights at the
police station and admitted that he was hired to move the
vehicle containing the bags from Point A to Point B for $1,
000, and that he knew that he was to move ...