Submitted: June 10, 2019
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri - St. Louis
LOKEN, KELLY, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
ERICKSON, Circuit Judge.
2018, Israel Angeles-Moctezuma pled guilty to Conspiracy to
Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute Actual
Methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846. Angeles-Moctezuma objected
to the Presentence Investigation Report's
("PSIR") description of the offense conduct and its
proposed Sentencing Guidelines calculations.
district court held a contested evidentiary sentencing
hearing on October 5, 2018, and after considering the
evidence, overruled Angeles-Moctezuma's objections, found
a Guidelines range of 360 months to life, and imposed a
low-end sentence of 360 months' imprisonment.
Angeles-Moctezuma appeals asserting the district court erred
in three ways: (1) by basing its Guidelines calculations on
unreliable hearsay evidence, (2) by denying his motion for a
downward departure pursuant to U.S.S.G. §5H1.6, and (3)
by denying his motion for a downward variance. We affirm.
2015, the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") began
investigating a large-scale drug-trafficking ring that
transported methamphetamine from California and Kansas City,
Missouri, to the St. Louis, Missouri, area for distribution.
The investigation revealed that Angeles-Moctezuma and Alan
Cardenas served as sources of supply of the methamphetamine.
October 12, 2016, a grand jury returned a 21-count
Superseding Indictment against 42 defendants.
Angeles-Moctezuma was charged in Count One with conspiracy to
distribute and possess methamphetamine. On the morning of the
first day of trial, he entered an open plea of guilty. In the
factual basis Angeles-Moctezuma admitted that he agreed with
other people to bring methamphetamine to Missouri and
distribute it, he knew the quantity was 50 grams or more of
actual methamphetamine, and he understood that his conduct
was prepared in anticipation of sentencing that detailed
Angeles-Moctezuma's extensive involvement in the
conspiracy. The PSIR recommended a base offense level of 38
based on a drug quantity of at least 4.5 kilograms of actual
methamphetamine, a two-level enhancement for possession of a
dangerous weapon under U.S.S.G. §2D1.1(b)(1), and a
four-level aggravating role enhancement under U.S.S.G.
§3B1.1(a). Angeles-Moctezuma filed objections to the
PSIR's description of the offense conduct, calculation of
the drug quantity and corresponding base offense level, and
application of sentencing enhancements. He also filed motions
for a downward departure under U.S.S.G. §4A1.3 for
overstated criminal history and U.S.S.G. §5H1.6 for his
difficult upbringing in Mexico. In addition to the departures
Angeles-Moctezuma sought a downward variance based on his
acceptance of responsibility and his lack of violence in the
sentencing hearing consisted of the testimony of a single
witness, DEA Special Agent David Wilmsmeyer ("SA
Wilmsmeyer"), who served as the primary case agent for
most of the investigation. SA Wilmsmeyer's testimony
touched upon a number of law enforcement operations, seizures
of drugs and money, and interviews with cooperating
witnesses. Defense counsel objected on hearsay grounds to
testimony about co-conspirator Judy Collins's statements
to the Utah Highway Patrol, arguing that the hearsay evidence
lacked significant indicia of reliability. The court
overruled the objection. Later when SA Wilmsmeyer began to
testify about incriminating statements made by
Angeles-Moctezuma, defense counsel made a continuing
objection on hearsay grounds. The court overruled the
close of testimony, the court overruled
Angeles-Moctezuma's objections to the PSIR and adopted
the PSIR, finding "that the Government has shown by way
more than a preponderance of the evidence that the
calculations in the [PSIR] are not only correct but
conservative" and that "when you take
[Angeles-Moctezuma's] admission of the elements of the
crime along with [the government's] evidence, it's
overwhelming." The district court found a total offense
level of 42 and a criminal history category of II, which
placed Angeles-Moctezuma in an advisory Guidelines range of
360 months to life.
court denied Angeles-Moctezuma's motions for a downward
departure and a downward variance and sentenced him to the
low-end 360 months' imprisonment, followed by five years
of supervised release. During the sentencing the district
court addressed each of Angeles-Moctezuma's motions in
turn. The court rejected Angeles-Moctezuma's argument
that his criminal history was overstated, noting that he had
three unscored prior convictions. The court acknowledged that
Angeles-Moctezuma had a difficult upbringing, but after
considering it, determined that his upbringing did not
warrant a downward departure.