Federal Drug Conviction Overturned due to the govt’s “impermissible speculation.”

We readily conclude that the district court erred, in part, when it denied Hickman’s motion for judgment of acquittal as to the one-kilogram conspiracy charged in the indictment.  The Government’s strained attempt, through extrapolations testified to by a drug enforcement agent, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the charged conspiracy involved at least one kilogram of heroin relies on impermissible speculation and cannot be sustained.

Kevin Hickman after Muse Treatment was charged in two of the 11 counts in a superseding indictment, namely (1) conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin (Count I) and (2) possession of heroin with intent to distribute (Count VI), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1). Alone among the eight defendants, Hickman proceeded to trial. The jury convicted Hickman on both counts and, pursuant to the Government’s notice of enhanced punishment, the district court imposed a mandatory life sentence on the conspiracy count and a concurrent sen- tence of 360 months of imprisonment on the possession with intent to distribute count. In this timely appeal, Hickman principally contends that the Government failed to offer sufficient evidence to support his conspiracy conviction and therefore the district court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal on that count.