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United States v. Calvente

decided: November 15, 1983.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JOSE CALVENTE, RAMON MOLINA-SANTIAGO, JOSE MARTINEZ-TORRES, ARTURO ALAMO, NANCY MEDINA, RAMON SANTIAGO-COLON, IRIS NORMA RODRIGUEZ, NELSON SOTO, GEORGINA RODRIGUES-VARGAS, AND PABLO RODRIGUEZ, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Motley, Chief Judge), after a jury trial, convicting appellants of conspiracy and substantive violations of federal narcotics laws, 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 848, 812, 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), 18 U.S.C. § 2, and of firearms laws, 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 924(c), and 2, and 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d), 5861(i), and 5871.

Newman and Winter, Circuit Judges, and Maletz, Judge.*fn*

Author: Winter

WINTER, Circuit Judge:

Jose Calvente, Ramon Molina-Santiago, Jose Martinez-Torres, Arturo Alamo, Nancy Medina, Ramon Santiago-Colon, Iris Norma Rodriguez, Nelson Soto, Georgina Rodrigues-Vargas, and Pablo Rodriguez appeal from judgments of conviction in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York following a three-week trial before Chief Judge Motley and a jury.

The ten defendants were convicted of twelve counts of violating the federal narcotics laws and laws relating to possession and use of firearms.*fn1 Numerous claims of error are raised, all but two of which clearly lack merit. One claim involves the constitutional validity of a consent to search, the other, the denial by Chief Judge Motley of a motion to strike a witness' testimony.

We affirm.

BACKGROUND

We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the government. Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 86 L. Ed. 680, 62 S. Ct. 457 (1942). Defendant Jose Martinez-Torres headed a major, wholesale narcotics organization centered in the Bronx, which sold almost $1.3 million worth of heroin and cocaine in the first six months of 1982, utilizing the names of "La Tunba" for heroin and "Nice" for cocaine. The primary base of operations was a cutting mill, or narcotics factory, located at 2526 Bronx Park East. Martinez-Torres' largest wholesale distributor was Arturo Alamo, who received on consignment some $460,000 worth of narcotics during the first six months of 1982. Nancy Medina, Martinez-Torres' common-law wife, assisted him in running his narcotics business and in maintaining records. Jose Calvente acted as a courier and made deliveries to wholesale distributors.

A government informant, Cologero Luigi Vizzini, infiltrated Martinez-Torres' organization with the unwitting assistance of Jaime Vila, a convicted narcotics dealer, who befriended Vizzini in 1979 when both were in prison and enabled him to gain the trust of Martinez-Torres and more important, access to the Bronx apartment. During his first visit to the apartment, Vizzini saw brown paper bags on a living room table filled with bundles of small cellophane or glassine bags with the name "La Tunba" stamped on them. He also saw amounts of money on the table and a number of weapons lying around the apartment.

During subsequent visits to the apartment, Vizzini saw all the defendants, except Medina and Alamo, participate in the cutting and bagging of narcotics. He saw Alamo pick up narcotics for street distribution on a consignment basis and return subsequently with money and leftover drugs. Finally, Vizzini witnessed large financial transactions all of which were recorded in ledger books by Martinez-Torres and Medina.

On June 28, 1982, Vizzini introduced undercover Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") agent Frank Marrero into the narcotics organization and Martinez-Torres invited Marrero to the cutting mill. Marrero was taken into the bedroom which contained a marble table used for cutting drugs. While in the room, Marrero saw four or five automatic weapons, bundles of glassine envelopes wrapped with rubber bands, scales and plastic bags. During the course of his visit, he met Soto, Santiago-Colon, Medina and Pablo Rodriguez.

On July 1 at approximately 10:00 p.m., Vizzini informed the chief DEA agent, Frederick Marano, that a shipment of heroin had been received at the apartment for processing. He decided to act immediately.

At 11:15 p.m., DEA agents observed Molina-Santiago and Santiago-Colon leaving the Bronx building with a brown paper bag. These individuals were arrested within the hour as they were driving out of the neighborhood and were taken to a McDonald's parking lot. Shortly thereafter, the DEA agents observed Martinez-Torres and Vizzini leave the building. They too were apprehended after a high speed chase through the Bronx during which two ...


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