United States v. Renteria, No. 17-2079 (3d Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Homeland Security Agent Kuc posed as a Pennsylvania drug trafficker, communicating by phone with men called Cejas and Juan, who used telephone numbers with Mexican country codes. They sent two kilograms of methamphetamine to a Springfield, Pennsylvania mailbox. Kuc received the methamphetamine on May 29, 2015, and deposited $2,000 in an agreed-upon bank account the following day in Philadelphia. On June 3, Kuc traveled to Los Angeles and spoke to Cejas, who stated that he would direct his local contact to contact Kuc. Kuc received a phone call from Renteria. The two planned to exchange methamphetamine and heroin for $146,500, which included $28,000 owed for the Pennsylvania methamphetamine shipment. The next day, the men met at a Huntington Beach restaurant. Kuc saw the drugs and gave other agents a prearranged signal, Renteria was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and one kilogram or more of heroin, 21 U.S.C. 846, and was sentenced to 153 months’ imprisonment. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was not a proper venue because it was not reasonably foreseeable that conduct in furtherance of the conspiracy would have occurred there; that the court gave incorrect jury instructions concerning venue; and that the court erred in its sentencing calculation. The court declined to adopt the “reasonable foreseeability” test; Renteria’s activities constituted overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, sufficient to establish venue under section 3237(a).