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United States v. Navedo-Ramirez

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

March 30, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
YAMIL NAVEDO-RAMIREZ, Defendant, Appellant

Page 564

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. Juan M. Pérez-Giménez, U.S. District Judge.

Irma R. Valldejuli for appellant.

Monique T. Abrishami, with whom Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, Nelson Pérez-Sosa, Assistant United States Attorney, and Francisco A. Besosa-Martí nez, Assistant United States Attorney, were on brief, for appellee.

Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Howard and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 565

LYNCH, Chief Judge.

This case concerns the jury's rejection of a duress defense after the defendant took the stand. Defendant Yamil Navedo-Ramirez, an 18-year veteran of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), provided armed protection at a sham drug transaction orchestrated by the FBI as part of a sting operation designed to identify corrupt police officers in Puerto Rico. She was 37 years old at the time, was divorced, and had two sons, aged 20 and 14. She was convicted of aiding and abetting an attempt to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and sentenced to 181 months imprisonment. The sting operation, " Operation Guard Shack," netted a number of corrupt police officers. See, e.g., United States v. González-Pérez, 778 F.3d 3 (1st Cir. 2015); United States v. Diaz-Castro, 752 F.3d 101 (1st Cir. 2014); United States v. Delgado-Marrero, 744 F.3d 167 (1st Cir. 2014); United States v. Díaz-Maldonado, 727 F.3d 130 (1st Cir. 2013).

Navedo-Ramirez appeals, arguing that the district court committed various evidentiary errors. She also argues that the court should have granted her a downward variance in sentencing, alleging, incorrectly, that the government engaged in sentencing factor manipulation. We affirm her conviction and sentence.

I.

In 2008, the FBI began Operation Guard Shack, aimed at combating corruption in the PRPD. The FBI recruited PRPD officers to work as confidential informants, and the informants invited PRPD officers whom they suspected of corruption to provide armed protection at sham drug transactions staged by the FBI. Diaz-Castro, 752 F.3d at 104. The informants often encouraged the officers to recruit other officers into the scheme. See, e.g., id. at 104-05; Díaz-Maldonado, 727 F.3d at 134-35.

On April 9, 2010, Wendell Rivera-Ruperto, a former romantic partner of Navedo-Ramirez, provided security services for one of the sham drug transactions at an apartment complex in the Isla Verde sector of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Rivera-Ruperto was informed that if he wanted to continue providing security for the drug deals, he would need to recruit an additional police officer to participate. He

Page 566

stated that his wife was a police officer and could accompany him to the next transaction. Later events showed that Rivera-Ruperto, who was unmarried, was referring to Navedo-Ramirez, his ex-girlfriend, who did come with him to the next transaction.

Five days later, on April 14, 2010, Rivera-Ruperto and Navedo-Ramirez arrived at the supposed drug transaction at the apartment complex. Both were armed. According to a videotape of the transaction, which was played for the jury, and to the testimony of one of the undercover agents who participated in the transaction, Navedo-Ramirez chatted amicably and laughed with the agents, observed the entirety of the transaction, and escorted the " buyer" of the sham drugs to the door after it was completed. She showed no reluctance to be involved. The undercover officers paid her $2,000 for her services. The agent testified that, after he paid ...


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