United States v. Lara, No. 20-50112 (5th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions and sentences for various drug trafficking counts after attempting to drive a pickup truck containing over 38 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in a compartment in the truck's tires from Mexico into the United States. Defendants raised numerous issues on appeal.
The court concluded that the district court did not err in denying defendants' Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 motions; although the district court erred by allowing the Government to elicit improper expert testimony from a Border Patrol agent, the error did not affect defendants' substantial rights; the Government did not impermissibly comment on defendants' silence in its opening and closing arguments; and the Government did not improperly allude to evidence not in the record during its closing argument. The court rejected Defendant Melissa Lara's three independent arguments. Finally, the court concluded that Defendant Mary Ann Lara's 288 month sentence was not substantively unreasonable.