United States v. Martinez-Brilia

Case: 21-20386 Document: 00516501976 Page: 1 Date Filed: 10/10/2022 United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit FILED October 10, 2022 No. 21-20386 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk United States of America, Plaintiff—Appellee, versus Edwin Martinez-Brilia; Josue Anahun Marquez-Oseguera; Nestor Henriquez-Parada, Defendants—Appellants. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas USDC No. 4:18-CR-467 Before Jones, Southwick, and Ho, Circuit Judges. Per Curiam:* Following a two-week trial, a jury convicted Edwin Martinez-Brilia, Josua Marquez-Oseguera, and Nestor Henriquez-Parada of multiple counts of conspiracy and substantive offenses arising out of a “sting” operation in * Pursuant to 5th Circuit Rule 47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5th Circuit Rule 47.5.4. Case: 21-20386 Document: 00516501976 Page: 2 Date Filed: 10/10/2022 No. 21-20386 Houston, Texas. They appeal their convictions on various grounds. Finding no reversible error, we AFFIRM. I. BACKGROUND In 2017, a joint federal-state task force planned a sting operation against a “rip crew” in Houston, Texas. 1 The targets were Christian Martinez-Meraz, Martinez-Brilia, Henriquez-Parada, and Marquez- Oseguera. The task force used Honduran drug-offender Angel Rivera-Valle as a confidential informant and, through him, invited the targets to rob a drug-laden truck. The targets took the bait. Police then changed the plan and directed the men to rob a stash house instead. The task force stocked the house with 30 kilograms of fake cocaine and 60 grams of real methamphetamine, rigged the place with cameras, and set up a command post next door. The task force executed the sting on October 23, 2017. That morning, the four men, brandishing firearms, arrived at the stash house, broke in, and packed up the drugs before police arrested them. The entire operation was captured on camera. In August 2018, a federal grand jury charged the four men with 14 counts of violating federal narcotics, firearm, and immigration laws. The defendants pled not guilty, 2 and the case proceeded to trial in August 2019. During jury selection, defense counsel objected to the prosecution’s use of two of its seven peremptory strikes against Hispanic females. The district court heard from both sides and overruled the objection. At trial, Martinez- Meraz pled guilty to two counts and agreed to testify against his co- 1 A “rip crew” robs drug traffickers or alien smugglers, who are less inclined to report the crime given their line of work. 2 Prior to trial, Marquez-Oseguera pled guilty to one of the seven counts charged against him. 2 Case: 21-20386 Document: 00516501976 Page: 3 Date Filed: 10/10/2022 No. 21-20386 defendants. The jury found Martinez-Brilia and Henriquez-Parada guilty on eight counts and Marquez-Oseguera guilty on four counts and not guilty on two. The district court sentenced Martinez-Brilia and Henriquez-Parada both to 204 months’ imprisonment without parole and Marquez-Oseguera to 210 months’ imprisonment without parole. All three defendants appeal their convictions. II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW Because “a district …

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