United States v. Flores, No. 17-4039 (2d Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Defendants Campo and Flores appealed their convictions and sentences for conspiracy to import five or more kilograms of cocaine into the United States. According to Campo, who from an early age was raised by Cilia Flores, the First Lady of Venezuela, and sometimes referred to her as his mother, defendants sought to raise $20 million in drug proceeds in order to fund Cilia Flores's 2015 campaign for a position in the Venezuelan National Assembly.
The Second Circuit rejected defendants' claims of evidentiary errors; held that the evidence at trial was ample to permit the jury to find that defendants, if they lacked actual knowledge, deliberately avoided learning--or forming a belief--that their cocaine was to be bound for the United States; defendants' challenges to the instruction on conscious avoidance were without merit; and defendants' challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence of predisposition was without merit where, upon mention that the drugs would be sold in the United States, there was no semblance of any reluctance or hesitation by these defendants, who had spent the previous two months attempting to get partners for their plans to fly cocaine to other countries. Finally, the court rejected challenges to the district court's application of a two-step adjustment for defendants' roles in the conspiracy as supervisors or leaders of criminal activity under USSG 3B1.1(c), and a two-step enhancement for use of a private aircraft for importation under USSG 2D1.1(b)(3)(A). Accordingly, the court affirmed the convictions and sentences.