In U.S. v. Pertuz-Pertuz, No. 10-15800 (May 11, 2012), the Court held that a defendant convicted of conspiring to possess cocaine while aboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 70503, and penalized pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 960, could not benefit from a safety valve sentence below the mandatory minimum sentence.
The Court noted that the safety valve statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f), lists "offenses" for which a safety valve reduction may be available, and no offense in Title 46 is on the list. The Court rejected the argument that the defendant could qualify for safety-valve because his offense cross-referenced the punishment set forth a 21 U.S.C. § 960. The Court pointed out that the safety valve statute refers to offenses, not sentences.