Submitted January 13, 2016.
Appeals from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Kansas City.
For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee (15-1236, 15-2269): James Curt Bohling, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Stefan C. Hughes, Lucinda Sword Woolery, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Kansas City, MO.
For Andre Taylor, Defendant - Appellant (15-1236): Alex Scott McCauley, MCCAULEY LAW FIRM, L.L.C., Overland Park, KS.
Andre Taylor, Defendant - Appellant (15-1236), Pro se, Florence, CO.
For Victor Vickers, Defendant - Appellant (15-2269): William David Langston, LANGSTON LAW Olathe, KS.
Victor Vickers, Defendant - Appellant (15-2269), Pro se, Beaumont, TX.
Before MURPHY, SMITH, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.
MURPHY, Circuit Judge.
A jury convicted Andre Taylor of two counts charging distribution of cocaine and marijuana and two counts based on a murder for hire conspiracy. The jury also convicted Victor Vickers of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Taylor and Vickers each appeal. We affirm their convictions but remand Vickers' case for resentencing.
Of the twenty defendants charged in the indictment, fifteen entered guilty pleas, two are fugitives, and three, including Taylor and Vickers, proceeded to trial. Taylor and Vickers were each charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana or 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. See 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)--(b), 846. Taylor was also charged with one count of aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine, one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, and one count of possession of a machine gun in furtherance of a crime of violence. See id. § 841(a)--(b); 18 U.S.C. § § 958, 924(c)(1)(B)(ii). The evidence at trial established the following record relating to these counts.
Robert Taylor pled guilty to the drug distribution conspiracy and then testified. He explained that he had introduced Andre Taylor to Charlie " Mike" Williams, a drug dealer in Mexico who later became Andre Taylor's supplier. Williams had agreed to supply large quantities of marijuana and cocaine to Taylor who planned to sell them in Kansas City and then forward payment to Williams. Taylor hired a team of drivers to transport the drugs to Kansas City in trailers filled with inoperative " dummy" equipment which concealed large loads of drugs hidden beneath the floorboards. Witnesses testified that up to 27 kilograms of cocaine and 800 pounds of marijuana were sent in each shipment. Driver Ruben Machiche testified that he had personally transported thousands of pounds of marijuana for Taylor. Allen Sanchez, who had supervised the drivers, testified that he had overseen the delivery of over 100 kilograms of cocaine and between 8,000 and 9,000 pounds of marijuana to Kansas City. According to Sanchez, he sent over $9 million to Mexico on Taylor's behalf.
Taylor ran his Kansas City operations out of three houses on Hardesty Avenue. There, he stored large quantities of drugs and various " tools of the trade" such as firearms, ammunition, digital scales, plastic bags, and surveillance cameras. Police executed a search warrant on the houses, and at trial multiple coconspirators testified that they had purchased marijuana and cocaine from Taylor and had seen large quantities of drugs in the houses. The government also submitted recordings obtained from wiretaps on Taylor's cell phones. It sought to authenticate several of those recordings through the testimony of FBI Task Force Officer (TFO) Mark Corbin, who identified Taylor's voice. ...