U.S. v. Reyes
Evidence that conspirators allegedly used code language can support a conclusion a single conspiracy existed. In August 2012, a jury convicted the defendants, Joseph Reyes and Richard Daniels, on charges of allegedly participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and crack. The defendants moved for judgment of acquittal and argued that there was insufficient evidence to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that they participated in a single conspiracy to distribute drugs. "A Rule 29 motion [for a judgment of acquittal] should be granted only if the district court concludes there is no evidence upon which a reasonable mind might fairly conclude guilt beyond a reasonable doubt" existed, pursuant to U.S. v. Irving, a 2006 decision of the 2nd Circuit. The government presented evidence that gang members sold heroin and crack every day. Witnesses testified that the gang decided who was allowed to sell drugs at the premises. One of the defendants allegedly warned the other defendant, when law enforcement was conducting surveillance. Witnesses testified that gang members used code language, such as "dog food" for heroin, "plastic" for crack cocaine and "shwammys" for guns, and that the gang sold about eight to 21 8-balls of crack per week. Other residents of the premises allegedly were provided with free samples. There was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that there was a single conspiracy to use the premises as a base from which to sell drugs and that the gang sold the drugs under "brand" names, such as "Take Over" and "Max Pain." A drug dealer allegedly called one defendant to report that his drugs had been stolen, and the defendant allegedly responded that he would discipline the thief. There was evidence that defendant Joseph Reyes was more than a street-level dealer and that he provided drugs to other gang members. A witness claimed that defendant Richard Daniels managed the entire operation. The jury could have found that Reyes and Daniels knowingly and willfully joined the alleged conspiracy. The defendants failed to prove there was insufficient evidence to convict. The court denied the defendants' Rule 29 motions for judgments of acquittal.