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To withdraw from a conspiracy, a defendant must terminate completely his active involvement in the conspiracy, as well as take affirmative steps to defeat or disavow the conspiracy's purpose. For withdrawal to limit a conspirator's liability, mere cessation of activity is not enough.
As the culmination of a months-long undercover operation, drug enforcement officials seized over 850 kilograms of cocaine in a series of busts during July and August of 1994. Along with eight co-defendants, Appellants Bernard Wilson, Luis Luna, and Manuel Garcia were indicted for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, as well as conspiracy to do the same, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846, respectively. Appellant Garcia pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge shortly before trial. Appellants Wilson and Luna were tried before a jury, which found them guilty on both counts of the indictment. On appeal, Wilson and Luna asserted that following their arrests, both of them confessed and accordingly withdrew from the conspiracy. Wilson and Luna argued that the district court erred by refusing to charge the jury on a multiple conspiracy instruction that they had submitted to the court.
The court held that appellants did not clearly indicate their alleged intention to thwart the goals of the conspiracy, which was required for withdrawal of the conspiracy charge. Thus, the court held that the district court did not plainly err by failing to find that appellants withdrew from the conspiracy. The court also held that the evidence established a single conspiracy among the appellants that continued from the first contacts by federal agents with the conspirators until the second wave of arrests. Thus, the court rejected appellants' claim of variance in the jury instruction. Additionally, the district court's jury instructions and its particular ostrich instruction were held to be appropriate. Finally, appellants' arguments regarding their sentences were either waived or they failed to introduce any evidence regarding an intention to plead guilty for the purpose of obtaining a departure from the mandatory maximum sentence.