UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Salvador Arteaga ARAGON, aka Chaka, aka Ricky, Defendant-Appellant.
Decided: March 05, 2020
Before: HURWITZ and FRIEDLAND, Circuit Judges, and KORMAN,** District Judge.
Catharine Richmond, Assistant U.S. Attorney, L. Ashley Aull, Assistant U.S. Attorney, DOJ - Office of the U.S. Attorney, Los Angeles, CA, Jake Daniel Nare, United States Attorney's Office, Santa Ana, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellee Devin Burstein, Attorney, Warren & Burstein, San Diego, CA, for Defendant-Appellant
Salvador Arteaga Aragon was convicted of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and distributing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841. We have jurisdiction over his appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and affirm.
1. The district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the arresting officer’s identification of Aragon’s voice on recorded telephone calls. See United States v. Ortiz, 776 F.3d 1042, 1044–45 (9th Cir. 2015) (stating standard of review). The officer heard Aragon speak after his arrest. Familiarity with a voice based on post-arrest statements can satisfy the “low threshold for voice identifications” in Federal Rule of Evidence 901(b)(5). Id. at 1044 (internal quotation marks omitted).
2. The district court did not err in finding that the government presented evidence sufficient to prove that Aragon participated in calls with a confidential informant. In addition to the arresting officer’s voice identification, the jury also heard evidence that the participant in the calls gave his “last names” as “Arteaga Aragon,” that Aragon identified himself to the arresting officer with those last names, and that Aragon admitted that he knew the confidential informant. A “rational trier of fact” could conclude that it was Aragon on the calls. United States v. Kimbrew, 944 F.3d 810, 813 (9th Cir. 2019) (internal quotation marks omitted).
3. The evidence was also sufficient to prove that Aragon conspired with and aided and abetted others to distribute narcotics. See id. (stating standard of review). Aragon’s co-conspirator promptly carried out Aragon’s instructions when consummating a drug sale with the confidential informant. This was “strong circumstantial evidence of an agreement.” United States v. Hernandez, 876 F.2d 774, 778 (9th Cir. 1989). This evidence was also sufficient to show that Aragon offered “knowing aid to persons committing federal crimes, with the intent to facilitate the crime.” Rosemond v. United States, 572 U.S. 65, 71, 134 S.Ct. 1240, 188 L.Ed.2d 248 (2014) (internal quotation marks omitted).
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