• United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • 16-41197
Following a traffic stop for unsafe lane change and a consensual vehicle search which yielded ten kilograms of cocaine concealed in two false compartments in the rear quarter panels, appellant was indicted for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering. Appellant moved for, and was denied, suppression of the evidence; a jury subsequently convicted appellant on both counts. The district court accepted the presentence report classifying appellant as a career offender, but granted appellant's motion for a downward departure, sentencing appellant to 240 months on the first count and 60 months on the second, to run concurrently. Appellant appealed his convictions arguing that certain evidence should have been suppressed and that there was insufficient evidence for conviction as well as various challenges to his sentence. The court affirmed holding the traffic stop was reasonable under Ark. Code Ann. §27-51-306 as appellant changed lanes without a safe distance and the officer had reasonable suspicion that appellant was engaged in drug trafficking based on his observations of appellant and the condition of the vehicle, including the modified quarter panel. Thus, the officer did not unreasonably extend the detention, and appellant's consent was not tainted. Further, the evidence supported that a reasonable jury could conclude appellant reached an agreement with another to distribute drugs and that the trial court properly considered appellant's career criminal activity when determining the sentencing guidelines. Accordingly, the judgment of conviction and sentence was affirmed. U.S. v. Henry Korvett Bams, Fifth Circuit, Case No.: 16-41197, 06/01/2017

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