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United States v. Salas-Camacho

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

August 2, 1988, Argued and Submitted ; October 19, 1988, Filed

No. 87-5341


 [*789]  WIGGINS, Circuit Judge:

Vapsi Akiram Salas-Camacho appeals his conviction for smuggling goods into the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 545, and making two false denials that he was bringing merchandise into this country, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. He claims that because he declared the goods at the secondary inspection station, he cannot be convicted of smuggling. He also argues the district court erred in rejecting jury instructions to that effect. We need also to decide if the appellant can be convicted twice of making the same denial to Customs officials. We affirm.


On May 4, 1987, Salas-Camacho attempted to enter the United States from Mexico at the port of entry at San Ysidro, California. He was  [**2]  driving a white Chevrolet pickup truck and was accompanied by a friend. He stopped at the primary inspection station and customs inspector Thomas Morin asked the appellant his citizenship, where he lived, how long he had been in Mexico, and if he was bringing anything back from Mexico. He replied that he had made no purchases and was not bringing anything with him from Mexico. Appellant also volunteered information which had not been requested by Inspector Morin and appeared to be rambling. During his questioning of appellant, Inspector Morin observed that he was nervous and overly friendly. Because of these observations, Inspector Morin referred appellant to the secondary inspection area.

There, customs inspector John Davidson approached the truck and asked appellant what he was bringing from Mexico. He replied that he had nothing to declare. Appellant testified that Inspector Davidson never asked him if he had anything to declare. At any rate, Inspector Davidson removed a referral slip from the windshield of appellant's car and entered his name in the Department of Treasury computer system. Inspector Davidson learned from the search that appellant had been previously arrested at  [**3]  the San Ysidro port of entry in possession of undeclared steroids. Inspector Davidson returned to the vehicle and requested that appellant exit the truck. Inspector Davidson confronted appellant with his prior stop for failing to declare steroids, at which point appellant admitted that he had been stopped before and that he presently had steroids in his truck. Three boxes of steroids were retrieved from the vehicle.

On May 15, 1987, a grand jury indicted appellant for one count of illegal importation of merchandise, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 545, and two counts of making false statements to a federal officer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. He was convicted of all counts on September 23, 1987. On November 9, 1987, appellant was sentenced on count 1 to a suspended sentence and was placed on probation for a period of three years on the condition that he be confined in a jail-type institution for six months and then returned to Mexico. On counts 2 and 3, the appellant received the same sentence, both to be served concurrently. Appellant timely appeals. We have jurisdiction by virtue of 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Appellant has been released from custody, and is now serving his probation.

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859 F.2d 788 *; 1988 U.S. App. LEXIS 14253 **; 111 A.L.R. Fed. 779

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. VAPSI AKIRAM SALAS-CAMACHO, Defendant-Appellant

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, No. CR 87-0532-1-T, Howard B. Turrentine, District Judge, Presiding.


declare, false statement, secondary, customs, convicted, inspection, steroids, importer, jury instructions, counts, impair, merchandise, smuggling

Criminal Law & Procedure, Smuggling, Goods Smuggling, Elements, International Trade Law, International Commerce & Trade, Exports & Imports, General Overview, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Business & Corporate Compliance, Tariff Act, Fraud, False Pretenses, Fraud Against the Government, Defective Joinder & Severance, Multiplicity, Definition of Multiplicity, False Statements, Abuse of Discretion, Trials, Jury Instructions, Requests to Charge