Expert Article Library

Importation of Illegal Drugs

Case Name: United States v. Hernandez (Click here for the full text of the case)

Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

Date: February 14, 2007

Expert: Immigration and Customs. Agent Amatore, Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Issues: Whether the district court erred in admitting testimony commenting on appellant’s silence during custodial interrogation, in violation of the Fifth Amendment, and whether the district court erroneously denied his request for a jury instruction on the lesser included offense of simple possession.

Summary of case: Appellant was convicted upon a jury verdict of importation of more than 50 grams of methamphetamine under 21 U.S.C.S. §§ 952 and 960 and of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute under 21 U.S.C.S. § 841(a)(1). He was sentenced to the statutory minimum sentence of 120 months.

Role of the expert: Agent Amatore gave testimony as to the drug’s purity, quantity and dollar value. Amatore also testified that Hernandez possessed the methamphetamine for resale and distribution rather than for personal consumption.

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: No challenges noted. The appellate court affirmed appellant's conviction for importation of methamphetamine and his 120-month sentence, which was mandatory for that conviction. However, the court vacated defendant's conviction for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute because a rational jury could have found that appellant possessed the methamphetamine for personal use.

Summary prepared by W. McLennan, Student, U.C. Hastings College of the Law