Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, April 10, 2015

Asante: Affirming Gun Trafficking and Exporting Enhancements

In U.S. v. Asante, No. 13-15651 (April 6, 2015), the Court affirmed the imposition of firearms sentence enhancements. The Court rejected Asante’s challenge to the four-level enhancement, under USSG § 2K2.1(b)(5), for a firearms offender “engaged in the trafficking of firearms,” claiming there was no evidence that he knew his conduct would result in another’s unlawful possession, use or disposal of the firearms. The Court acknowledged that the government failed to show that Asante knew that the firearm would be transferred to individual with prior convictions. But the enhancement applied on the alternative ground that the firearms would be transferred to a person who would use them unlawfully. The Court found this could be inferred from the fact that Asante knew the firearms would be hidden in cars that were being shipped to Jamaica. The Court also rejected Asante’s challenge to the imposition of a four-level enhancement, under USSG § 2K2.1(b)(6)(A), for exporting firearms. Again, the fact that Asante knew the guns would be smuggled to Jamaica supported this enhancement. The Court rejected the argument that the imposition of both enhancements constituted “double counting.” The Court noted that knowing a firearm will be transferred to someone for unlawful use, and for export, are conceptually distinct. Finally, the Court rejected the argument that the district court should have redacted information from the PSI about threats Asante made, in a phone conversation from jail to his wife, against the prosecutor and the magistrate judge. Even if the rules do not require this information to be contained in the PSI, the district court had discretion to include it.