Conspiracy Conviction Vacated Where Evidence Did Not Show Defendant Knew the Precise Nature of Contraband He Received

In United States v. Torres, 09-17710-cr (2d Cir. May 5, 2010), the defendant had been convicted after trial of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. sec. 846.

In reversing that conviction, the Court found that the evidence was sufficient to permit the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that there existed a conspiracy for the distribution of cocaine and that the defendant was most likely aware that the packages which were sent to him contained contraband.  However, the Court could not locate in the record any evidence which showed that the defendant knew the packages contained narcotics.  As such, the evidence was  insufficient for the jury to find that the defendant had knowledge of the purposes of the conspiracy of which he was accused.

In sum, “proof that the defendant engaged in suspicious behavior, without proof that he had knowledge that his conduct involved narcotics, is not enough to support his conviction for conspiracy to traffic in narcotics.”