Drug Offenses

The Federal Docket

United States v. Charles White (8th Cir. June 2019)

In a marijuana farm case, the Court held that law enforcement did not exceed the scope of a permissible knock-and-talk when they returned to the defendant’s house with other narcotics officers after smelling marijuana at the property earlier in the day, as an officer’s subjective intent is irrelevant. The Court also affirmed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to dismiss the marijuana charges based on the Obama-era “Cole memo” directing prosecutors not to prosecute marijuana cases in states where marijuana is legal.

United States v. Spencer Rozier (11th Cir. March 2019) (Unpublished)

The Court held that circumstantial evidence including the defendant’s criminal history, his signature on the storage unit lease, and his access to the storage unit was sufficient to prove he constructively possessed the controlled substances found within the storage unit.

United States v. Valois

United States v. Valois, et al., No. 17-13535 (February 12, 2019) Two groups of individuals were intercepted by the Coast Guard and prosecuted separately for drug trafficking on the high seas. The Court affirmed the second group’s convictions, holding that a mistrial was not warranted based on the prosecutor’s references to a conspiracy between the …

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United States v. Enrique Montano-Garcia

United States v. Enrique Montano-Garcia, No. 17-11773 (February 5, 2019), UNPUBLISHED The Court held that the sentencing court erred in attributing to the defendant the entire drug quantity found at his co-conspirator’s apartment because the court failed to make a finding that the defendant, a drug courier, agreed to participate in the co-conspirator’s broader criminal …

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United States v. Benjamin Jenkins (11th Cir. 2019) (Unpublished)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime under § 924(c), holding that there was sufficient evidence of the nexus between the firearm and drug trafficking given the firearm’s proximity to the drugs and proceeds, its accessibility, and the government’s evidence that drug traffickers frequently use firearms in connection with drug offenses.

United States v. Alexis Hernandez (11th Cir. October 2018)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, holding that the Rules of Evidence do not apply in § 851 hearings, and that the district court did not plainly err in applying the preponderance of evidence standard where the evidence established the defendant’s prior conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

United States v. Jason Phifer (11th Cir. September 2018)

The Court reversed a defendant’s conviction for possession with the intent to distribute ethylone. At issue was whether ethylone is a “positional isomer” of butylone, which would therefore make it an illegal controlled substance. The DEA asserted that it was, pursuant to its regulations defining “positional isomers.” The Court disagreed, holding that the DEA’s definition did not unambiguously apply to ethylone, and the Rule of Lenity did not allow for Auer deference in criminal prosecutions.

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