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Name: U.S. v. Recio et al.
Case #: 01-1184
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 01/21/2003
Subsequent History: Cross-cites: 123 S.Ct. 819; 154 L.Ed.2d 744; opn. corrected on 2/24/03 at: 123 S.Ct. 1342; 154 L.Ed.2d 1016

A conspiracy does not automatically terminate simply because the government has defeated its objective. Here, police stopped a truck carrying illegal drugs, seized them, and, with the help of the truck’s driver, set up a sting operation. A jury convicted respondents of conspiring to possess and distribute unlawful drugs, but the Ninth Circuit reversed. Under Ninth Circuit precedent, a jury could not convict unless it believed the respondents had joined the conspiracy before the police seized the drugs. (U.S. v. Cruz (1997, 9 Cir.) 127 F.3d 791.) Here, the Court held that the Cruz decision is not consistent with basic conspiracy law. The agreement to commit an unlawful act is “a distinct evil” which may exist and be punished whether the substantive crime ensues or not.