February 16, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District Indiana, South Bend Division. No.
3:16-cr-00080-JD-MGG-3 - Jon E. DeGuilio, Judge.
Wood, Chief Judge, and Kanne and Rovner, Circuit Judges.
Rovner, Circuit Judge.
jury convicted Johnny Jones of possessing and conspiring to
distribute methamphetamine, the district court sentenced him
to a term of imprisonment of 145 months. In calculating
Jones' sentence, the district court considered Jones'
possession of a gun carried in the purse of his
co-conspirator and also several quantities of methamphetamine
for which Jones claimed he was not responsible. We have
reviewed these findings by the district court for clear error
and finding none, we affirm.
February or March 2016, Jones and his girlfriend, Jennai
Rowland, moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan, staying in various
hotels and, on occasion, with Jones' cousin, Stephanie
and Rowland used Smith's address as their own. Hard times
had befallen Smith and she joined with Jones and Rowland to
sell drugs, particularly methamphetamine. Smith's role
was to find buyers and connect them to Jones and Rowland.
Jones and Rowland controlled the business. They set the
prices, authorized transactions, and provided instructions
for meeting-communicating with Smith by way of text messages
or in person. When Smith found a buyer, she would contact
Jones or Rowland, and then obtain the methamphetamine from
Rowland. Sometimes Jones would be present at these
transactions and give the go-ahead for the sale; sometimes
Rowland would arrive alone. After selling the
methamphetamine, Smith would give the buyers' money to
Rowland or Jones. When Smith needed to earn more money, she
would send a text message to Jones' phone asking that he
send more customers her way.
May 2 through August 8, 2016, an undercover police officer
purchased approximately 60 grams of methamphetamine from
Smith over the course of six controlled buys. (A single
"dose" of methamphetamine is usually about a half
of a gram). For each transaction, Smith would contact Rowland
and Jones and obtain the drugs from them.
conspiracy unraveled on August 30, 2016, after a final
controlled buy. On that day, Smith agreed to sell the
undercover officer eight ounces (226.8 gm) of methamphetamine
at a Walmart parking lot in Niles, Michigan, a few miles
north of the Indiana boarder. She arrived with only two
ounces (56.7 gm) of methamphetamine, but offered to travel to
South Bend for the remaining six ounces.
left the two ounces of methamphetamine with the undercover
officer in exchange for $2, 000 cash (the serial numbers of
which had been pre-recorded by the police). She then drove to
South Bend where she met Jones, Rowland, and Jones'
mother at a hotel. After Smith explained to Jones and Rowland
that she needed more methamphetamine, Jones told Rowland to
"[g]et her what she need." R. 185 at 104. The four
then walked out of the hotel to a silver Mustang. As they
walked out, Jones' mother pointed out that Rowland had a
gun hanging out of her purse. Jones was irritated that the
gun was not properly concealed and pushed it back down into
Jones present, Rowland gave Smith two more ounces of
methamphetamine. Smith gave $1, 500 of the undercover
officer's money to Jones and he allowed her to keep the
remaining $500. Smith then returned to the Walmart parking
lot where law enforcement officers arrested her.
investigators followed the silver Mustang to a mall parking
lot where it approached a blue Buick, stopping driver's
side to driver's side. Investigators followed the car but
could not hear the conversation or see anything inside the
Mustang, but they could see that someone tossed two baggies
containing a golf-ball-sized white substance from the
Mustang's driver's side window to the Buick, and
someone from the Buick got out of the car and handed a bundle
of cash into the Mustang's driver's side window.
Immediately after the transaction, investigators stopped the
Mustang and arrested Jones, who was driving, and Rowland, the
front seat passenger. Jones had $1, 500 in pre-recorded money
from the undercover agent in his pocket and an additional $2,
400 in cash. In a purse that Rowland had on her lap at the
time of the stop, investigators found "one fairly small
package" of methamphetamine and a loaded .380 caliber
pistol. R. 185 at 136, 155- 56. Investigators did not find
any of Jones' fingerprints on the gun, but did find them
on the magazine inside the weapon. They also found a plastic
grocery bag in the back seat which contained 53.8 grams of
marijuana, two packages of methamphetamine, empty baggies,
and a digital scale. They also found another digital scale
and two cell phones in the car's center console area. A
law enforcement officer testified that the two packages of
methamphetamine in the back seat were "substantially
larger" than the package in Rowland's purse. R. 185
at 135-37. In all, law enforcement officers recovered three
baggies of methamphetamine from the car-one from
Rowland's purse and two from the back seat. The three
bags contained the following amounts of methamphetamine: 1.6
grams, 15.9 grams and 29.6 grams. Unfortunately the bags were
not marked with the location in which they were found and one
was not properly sealed. Nevertheless, given the testimony
that the substantially smaller of the bags came from
Rowland's purse, there is sufficient evidence for us to
conclude (as did the trial court) that the 1.6 gram bag came
from Rowland's purse and the 15.9 and 29.6 gram bags came
from the rear seat.
the cell phones found in the search of the Mustang was linked
to the phone number that Smith used to communicate with
Jones. This phone was also the phone used in text message
exchanges with Rowland's phone, including a message sent
on July 26, 2016, from Rowland's phone, which said
"Meet the newest member of our family. …"
along with a picture of the .380 caliber pistol posed with a
bundle of cash. R. 186 at 32.
jury charged Smith, Rowland, and Jones with multiple drug
related crimes. Jones' indictment charged him with
conspiring to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; possession with the intent
to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2; and possession of a
firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). R. 80. Rowland pled
guilty to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug