In United States v. Rodriguez, No. 20-14681 (May 12, 2022) (Jill Pryor, Grant, Marcus), the Court affirmed the defendant’s 135-month sentence for his role in a conspiracy trafficking methamphetamine.
First, the Court upheld the district court’s decision to attribute 200 kilograms of meth to Rodriguez after considering the scope of the enterprise, his particular role, and the quantity of drugs that would be reasonably foreseeable in light of his role. This case involved a large importation/distribution enterprise driving drugs across the Mexico border for distribution, and then wiring money back to the cartels in Mexico. Rodriguez acted jointly with his co-conspirators and participated in the conspiracy in six different ways, five of which included directly transporting drugs. And, even though he played a “minor role” in the conspiracy, that did not preclude attributing the full quantity of drugs to him where that quantity was reasonably foreseeable.
Second, the Court upheld an enhancement for possession of a firearm because his co-conspirator had stored a firearm at the stash house, and that was reasonably foreseeable, as Rodriguez effectively admitted at sentencing.
Third, the Court lacked jurisdiction to consider the argument that the district court erroneously failed to grant a downward departure under the Guidelines. Appellate review is available only where the district court incorrectly believed that it lacked authority to grant the departure, and nothing in the record suggested that the district court harbored such a misunderstanding.
Finally, the Court concluded that the low-end sentence was not substantively unreasonable. Nor did the district court abuse its discretion in declining to impose a downward variance.