Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Alexandria.
T. S. Ellis, III, District Judge. (CR-95-338-A)
Before RUSSELL and LUTTIG, Circuit Judges, and PHILLIPS, Senior Circuit Judge.
PHILLIPS, Senior Circuit Judge
Affirmed by published opinion. Senior Judge Phillips wrote the opinion, in which Judge Russell and Judge Luttig joined.
Carlos Sanchez was convicted, following a jury trial, of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section(s) 846, and with distribution of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section(s) 841. He challenges five rulings of the district court and seeks reversal of his conviction. We find no prejudicial error among those assigned and affirm his conviction.
The evidence in the light most favorable to the Government revealed the following facts. Sanchez first met Alberto Espinosa in 1991 or 1992 at an Arlington, Virginia, restaurant where Espinosa worked. Espinosa, Sanchez, and others often discussed their various drug trafficking businesses at the restaurant. During this time, Sanchez and Espinosa would occasionally provide drugs for one another when supply was short. Espinosa participated in four specific transactions with Sanchez in 1992; on two of those occasions Sanchez supplied Espinosa with 125 grams of cocaine, and on two occasions Espinosa provided Sanchez with the same quantity.
Sometime in 1992, Espinosa left the country for 14 months and when he returned he reestablished contact with Sanchez. The two conducted more cocaine transactions in 1994, in and around Arlington. Espinosa participated in four specific drug transactions with Sanchez after Espinosa's return to the United States. Two of those transactions involved half-kilograms of cocaine.
In 1994, Sanchez introduced Espinosa to his brother-in-law, Orlando, and told Espinosa that Orlando could provide him with cocaine for distribution. Orlando and Espinosa conducted three multikilogram deals together and Sanchez received a commission of $250 per kilogram for arranging the deals. Orlando would not sell cocaine directly to Sanchez because Sanchez took too long to pay, so after arranging the deals, Sanchez purchased his cocaine from Espinosa.
Another participant in these drug operations was Amparo Lindner, a Colombian woman who helped Espinosa by delivering drugs and picking up money. Lindner delivered cocaine to Sanchez from Espinosa on three occasions from October 1994, until the end of the year. Lindner was also a cocaine dealer on her own behalf. She had, on three occasions, sold cocaine to Virgil Ayala. In 1995, when Espinosa was in need of a new source of cocaine, Lindner introduced Ayala to Espinosa. Espinosa planned to buy five kilograms of cocaine from Ayala. However, unbeknownst to Espinosa, Ayala was an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent and he arrested Espinosa in January 1995.
In the meantime, Sanchez himself was still dealing cocaine which he obtained from other drug dealers. In 1995, he contacted Margaret Everett, the wife of an acquaintance, to sell her cocaine. Sanchez had learned from Jon Rivera that Everett was in the market for 250 grams of cocaine. Sanchez and Everett spoke twice to arrange the drug deal and Rivera was also involved in the planning. On January 24, 1995, Everett and Sanchez, with Rivera as a middleman, exchanged $6000 for 189 grams of cocaine. Unbeknownst to Sanchez, Everett was in fact an undercover DEA agent and Rivera was a confidential informant cooperating with law enforcement.
On February 25, 1995, Sanchez was arrested while using a pay phone. At the time of his arrest, Sanchez was standing near a car in which he had just been a passenger. A search of that car revealed a plastic bag ...