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US v. Rivera-Rodriguez, 08-1799

US v. Rivera-Rodriguez, 08-1799, concerned a challenge to the district court's conviction of defendants for drug trafficking conspiracy, as part of a large organization known as "Las Avispas Dos," in Puerto Rico, and its imposition of lengthy prison terms. 


In affirming the convictions and the sentences, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion regarding the evidentiary rulings and that the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient for the jury to convict defendants.  The court also held that the ex parte conversations the district judge held with prospective jurors did not amount to plain error.  Further, the district court did not err when it provided a defendant with the opportunity to allocute during sentencing, nor when it found a co-defendant individually responsible for at least 4.5 kilograms of crack cocaine.  Lastly, the district court committed no error concerning the prior criminal histories of defendants when calculating their sentences.

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