Monday, November 27, 2017

Court Affirms Life Sentence for Drug Trafficker

US v. Lopez-Garcia, 2017 WL 5485333 (10th Cir. 11/14/17) (unpublished): Mr. Lopez-Garcia was convicted after a jury trial of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine and of possessing firearms as an illegal alien. Alien or not, the district court decided he should spend the rest of his life on US soil, albeit in a federal pen, because of his leadership role in the organization, his maintenance of the residence used to facilitate the drug trafficking, his possession of firearms, and his involvement in importing the drugs through the Sinaloa cartel, in which his brother is a high-ranking leader. The probation officer concluded his offense level was 48 and the advisory guideline range was life. Unsatisfied, the government argued for two additional points for obstruction of justice, based on threats witnesses received before trial. The district court granted the objection. Defendant challenged the reasonableness of his sentence. The Tenth Circuit finds that the sentence was both procedurally and substantively reasonable. There was plenty of evidence to support the district court's conclusion that threats were made and the defendant was responsible. There was "no legal merit" to the argument that the district court failed to consider the sentencing goal of rehabilitation because "18 U.S.C. ยง 3582(a) 'prohibits consideration of rehabilitation in setting ... the term of imprisonment." The sentence was also substantively reasonable.