United States v. McDowell, No. 13-1524 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
McDowell, Cooper, and others were charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute one kilogram or more of hero-in in Rockford, Illinois. McDowell was also charged with six counts of distributing heroin, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1). Cooper was also charged with four counts of distributing heroin, one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A), and being a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g). The Seventh Circuit affirmed their convictions and sentences. A jury could reasonably conclude that they were co-conspirators given the evidence that McDowell and Cooper coordinated to obtain and sell drugs. Because there was sufficient evidence to support his conspiracy conviction, the district court correctly held McDowell responsible for his co-conspirators’ possession of firearms in furtherance of the conspiracy. The court correctly found McDowell and Cooper responsible for more than one but less than three kilograms of heroin based on a co-defendant’s admission and other reliable evidence and correctly enhanced McDowell’s offense level for being a leader of the conspiracy given the evidence that the conspiracy involved at least five individuals and he organized and exerted control over them.