To prove the existence of a drug conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. § 846, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was an agreement between the accused and at least one of the other alleged conspirators to violate the narcotics laws as set out in the indictment. The existence of a conspiracy can be established by either direct evidence or circumstantial evidence, such as inferences drawn from the conduct of the defendants. Unlike the general federal conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, the government is not required to prove the commission of an overt act.
However, as in the case with non-drug conspiracies, showing that a defendant has a general knowledge about drug activity does not prove that he or she agreed to become part of the conspiracy. The law is clear that mere presence at the scene of a crime or conspiratorial activity, or mere association with a co-conspirator, is not enough to establish a defendant’s knowing and intentional participation in criminal activity, even if the defendant is aware of the criminal activity.
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