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  This module is a resource for lecturers

 

Case studies

Case Study (Drug Smuggling Conspiracy)

Mothers recruited from an impoverished neighbourhood were charged with "renting" their infants to women who would then fly with them on international plane trips. Women couriers made at least 34 smuggling trips to Panama and Jamaica using 20 different infants. The women were given baby formula cans that contained liquid cocaine. It is alleged that smugglers punched holes in the baby formula cans, drained the formula, and then used syringes to fill them with liquid cocaine. In some cases, cocaine also was placed in rum bottles or concealed in suitcase handles. The women with infants would then return to North America with the drugs, which were distributed by others.

Among the 35 people charged in this smuggling scheme were the parents who "rented" their babies for short periods in exchange for money. The parents knew little of the smuggling scheme and basically saw their role merely as "loaning" their babies in an effort to get some needed money.

Case-related files

  • Weber, T. (2001). Thirty-Five Tagged in Formula Drug Scheme. Associated Press, December 14.
  • U.S. v. Herrera (2016) WL 561904, United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 14 C 1933.
 

Significant features

  • Criminal conspiracy vs. criminal association
 

Discussion questions

  • Explain whether and why the parents of the infants should be charged as participants in the drug smuggling conspiracy.
  • How could the elements of conspiracy or criminal association be used to argue for or against the parents' conviction?

Case Study (United States v. John Cody)

John A. Cody was a notorious New York union leader and racketeer. He was the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union between 1976 and 1984, during which time he utilized strikes, extortion, and mafia intimidation to change contracts to his benefit and gained a fearsome reputation within the New York construction industry.

Cody was closely associated with several organized crime figures. During a 1975 interview conducted by the FBI, Cody admitted that he knew Carlo Gambino and Ettore "Terry" Zappi well but claimed that these relationships were purely social, and that he knew nothing about either man's business activities or their reputations as high-ranking members of organized crime. Gambino reportedly attended the marriage of Cody's son, Michael in 1974. This investigation also revealed a close association between Cody and Paul Castellano, the current head of the Gambino family.

Eventually, Cody was convicted of violating the federal racketeering statute. In particular, he was charged and convicted on seven of eight counts of an indictment that charged him with using his positions with the Union and the Union's pension fund to conduct the affairs of those entities through a pattern of racketeering activity that spanned a fourteen-year period. The racketeering acts included, among other, several Taft-Hartley violations relating to Cody's receipt of free labour and building materials for the construction of his summer home in Southampton and the receipt of cash kickbacks totalling 160,000 from two real estate brokers for arranging the purchases of two tracts of land by the Teamsters pension fund in 1970 and again in 1974.

Case-related files

 

Special features

  • Racketeering activity and application of RICO
 

Discussion questions

  • What is "racketeering activity"? What are the elements of the "racketeering" offence?
  • What evidence is needed to prove that a defendant engages in racketeering? If you were to incidentally have a casual encounter with a member of criminal organization, for instance at a mobster's wedding, could you be charged with a conspiracy offence?
 

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