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conspiracy to possess drugs proven here

Facts

In 2011, Dominick Riley, United States postal inspector, became suspicious of a package mailed from California to Canton, Mississippi. The package’s sender’s name did not match the sender’s address. Also, the package came from California, a “source state” for narcotics shipping in the United States. Riley contacted the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN), whose K-9 unit later alerted to the presence of narcotics in the package.

After securing a federal search warrant, the package was opened, and approximately two kilograms of marijuana was discovered. Riley and MBN coordinated to execute a controlled delivery of the package addressed to “the Jefferson family” at “331 Dobson Avenue, number two,” Canton, MS 39046.

Riley represented himself as a postal worker delivering the package, while MBN agents observed. When Riley knocked on the door at the address, Paulette came out of the house. Riley asked Paulette if she was expecting a package. She said that she was and signed for the package using a false name (Paulette Hackett). Riley handed the package to Paulette and left. The observing MBN agents, Candace Edwards and Anthony Moser, her partner, were in their vehicle.

They watched Paulette take possession of the package, then turn to reenter the house. Edwards next observed Paulette look at Edwards’s vehicle, throw the package to the ground, and run back into the house. Moser then quickly exited the vehicle in pursuit of Paulette, followed by Edwards.

Pursuing Paulette into the home, Edwards and Moser discovered two females, one male, a loaded shotgun, and misdemeanor amounts of illegal substances. While at the scene, Edwards learned from the occupants of the home that Anthony Jefferson and his father were en route to the location to retrieve the marijuana. Jefferson and his father arrived at the house and were told to get out of their vehicle and put their hands up, to which they complied.

Wesley Layton, the supervising MBN agent, arrived on the scene shortly after. Layton testified that after he arrived, he observed Jefferson and his father in handcuffs, and approached them intending to resolve the identities of the two men. After he approached Jefferson, he asked him “[what was] going on, you know, who he was.” In his response, Jefferson told Layton that the package was his.

The next day, Edwards and Moser informed Jefferson of his Miranda rights, which he waived via a written waiver form that he signed twice. According to the agents, Jefferson told them that he knew the package was coming, that he arranged for an individual in California to send the package, and that he intended to sell the marijuana. He also made a written statement in which he reiterated that he knew the package was coming, but recanted that he knew what was in the package.

Jefferson was convicted of possession with intent to sell marijuana and conspiracy to possess marijuana and sentenced to 60 years. On appeal, he argued he was not in possession of the drugs. MCOA affirmed.

Analysis

A. Possession

On appeal, Jefferson asserts he never possessed the marijuana and that he did not conspire with Paulette to possess the marijuana. Possession of a controlled substance may be actual or constructive. Constructive possession may be established where the evidence, considered under the totality of the circumstances, shows that the defendant knowingly exercised control over the contraband.

We said in Mitchell that admitting to ownership of the illegal substance is sufficient for possession. Jefferson admitted to ownership of the marijuana in his confession to Edwards and Moser as well as at the scene the day he was arrested. Further, he admitted that he arranged to have the marijuana sent to the house. We find there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that Jefferson possessed the marijuana. Thus, this issue is without merit.

B. Conspiracy

To prove a conspiracy, the State must prove that two or more persons agreed to commit a crime or agreed to accomplish an unlawful purpose. No express or formal agreement need be proven. A conspiracy can be proven by the acts and conduct of the alleged conspirators and can be inferred from the circumstances.

Jefferson admitted that the package was his, that he sent the package to the house, and that he intended to take the marijuana and sell it. Paulette received the box from Riley, told Riley she was expecting a package, signed for it using a false name, and threw the package to the ground upon spotting the officers. Further, Jefferson arrived at the scene to collect the package and admitted ownership. The jury found, based on the acts and conduct of Paulette and Jefferson, that they conspired to possess the marijuana. We find that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s finding. Thus, this issue is without merit.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/images/Opinions/CO117143.pdf