Thursday, August 08, 2013

Entire Weight of Mixture with 3.2% Cocaine Purity Used for Conviction and Sentence

United States v. Villarreal, no. 12-40589 (July 19, 2013) (Owen, Haynes, Lemelle) (per curiam)

The total weight of a group of bundles weighing 5.9 kilograms with a cocaine purity of 3.2% can be used for a conviction and also to calculate a defendant’s sentence. Applying Chapman v. United States, 500 U.S. 453 (1991), the panel determined that this bundle contained a detectable amount of cocaine, a conclusion supported by chemist testimony that the sample "‘appeared to be in a state that could be ingested by a drug consumer.’" The district court did not count, however, the other 2.5-kilogram group of bundles that only had a cocaine purity of 0.41%, calling that bundle "junk." The panel affirmed the conviction and sentence.



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