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United States v. Yoshida

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
303 F.3d 1145 (2002)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Yuami Yoshida (defendant) for knowingly or recklessly encouraging and helping to bring aliens into the United States, illegally and for commercial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (a)(2)(B)(ii). The trial evidence established that the families of three Chinese aliens each paid a criminal syndicate $50,000 to smuggle the aliens, via Thailand, from Japan to the United States. A syndicate associate made all the travel arrangements and accompanied them to the airport, where Yoshida awaited their arrival. Knowing that the aliens would be unable to negotiate their way through the Japanese airport and onto the plane for their flight to Los Angeles, the associate pointed out Yoshida to the aliens and told them to follow her. Without ever looking at or speaking to the aliens, Yoshida led them through the airport and to the gate. They were the last passengers to board the plane. Yoshida took a seat in the last row, right behind the aliens. After the group landed in Los Angeles, an airport immigration official patted Yoshida down, discovered a bulge in her underwear, searched the bulge, and found it concealed the aliens' baggage claim checks. Yoshida herself carried no bags, and she filled out an immigration form listing her final destination as a nonexistent Las Vegas hotel. Yoshida's passport showed that she had traveled frequently within Southeast Asia during the preceding two months. The federal district court judge denied Yoshida's motion to dismiss the case for insufficient evidence. The jury convicted Yoshida on both counts. On appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Yoshida argued that the evidence was insufficient to show that she knowingly or recklessly violated American immigration laws, did anything to bring the three Chinese aliens into the country, or was motivated by commercial considerations.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Trott, J.)

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