United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. BRACK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Reduce Sentence Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).
(Doc. 579.) Defendant requests that the Court reduce his
sentence based on Amendment 782 to the United States
Sentencing Guidelines. The Government acknowledges that
Defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction, but requests
that the Court deny the sentence reduction. Having considered
the arguments of the parties, relevant law, and being
otherwise fully informed, the Court will deny Defendant's
August 16, 2010, the jury found Defendant guilty of: (1)
conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams and
more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §
846; (2) possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or
more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A); (3) being a felon in
possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2); and (4) possession of
methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844. (Doc.
289.) The Presentence Investigation Report determined that
Defendant's United States Sentencing Guideline range was
360 months to life, based on a total offense level of 39 and
a criminal history category of IV. On January 12, 2012,
Defendant was sentenced to 360 months imprisonment, to be
followed by a five-year term of supervised release. (Doc.
December 13, 2016, the United States Probation Office
disclosed a memorandum concerning Defendant's eligibility
for a reduced sentence under United States Sentencing
Guideline Amendment 782. (Doc. 570.) Therein, the United
States Probation Office concluded that application of
Amendment 782 reduced Defendant's total offense level to
37. (Id.) A total offense level of 37 combined with
a criminal history category of IV results in a guideline
imprisonment range of 292 to 365 months. (Id.)
February 23, 2017, Defendant filed his Motion to Reduce
Sentence. (Doc. 579.) The Government filed a response in
opposition to the motion. (Doc. 583.) Therein, the Government
concedes that Defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction
but argues that a reduction is not warranted. (Id.)
district court does not have inherent authority to modify a
previously imposed sentence; it may do so only pursuant to
statutory authorization.” United States v.
Mendoza, 118 F.3d 707, 709 (10th Cir. 1997). Section
3582(c)(2) permits a district court to reduce a sentence if a
defendant has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment
“based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been
lowered by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 994(o).” 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Thus, a
district court has authority to modify a previously imposed
sentence if the sentence was based on a sentencing range that
was subsequently lowered by a retroactive amendment to the
Supreme Court has directed that a district court acting
pursuant to Section 3582(c)(2) must follow a two-step
inquiry. Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 824
(2010). First, the district court must determine whether the
defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction under the
guideline amendment. Id. at 827. Second, the
district court must consider whether the authorized reduction
is warranted, either in whole or in part, according to the
factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). Id.
Thus, eligibility for a sentence reduction under a guidelines
amendment does not create a right, but rather allows the
district court discretion to reduce a sentence. See
United States v. Meridyth, 573 F.App'x. 791, 794
(10th Cir. 2014); United States v. Osborn, 679 F.3d
1193, 1195-96 (10th Cir. 2012).
determining whether a sentence reduction is warranted and the
extent of any reduction, the district court must consider the
factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). These factors
are the nature, seriousness and circumstances of the offense
and the history and characteristics of the defendant, the
need for the sentence imposed to reflect the seriousness of
the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide
just punishment for the offense, to afford adequate
deterrence to criminal conduct, to protect the public from
further crimes of the defendant, and the sentencing range.
Id. Additionally, the district court “may
consider post-sentencing conduct of the defendant that
occurred after imposition of the term of imprisonment in
determining . . . whether a reduction in the defendant's
term of imprisonment is warranted.” See
U.S.S.G. § 1B1.1010 cmt. n.1(B).
seeks a reduction in his sentence pursuant to Amendment 782,
which was effective as of November 2014. Amendment 782
provides a two-level reduction in the base offense level for
most drug quantities listed in U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c),
including, as relevant here, methamphetamine. See
U.S.S.G. app. C, amend. 782. Amendment 782 has been made
retroactively applicable under United States Sentencing
Guideline § 1B1.10(d). In that Defendant was sentenced
to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that
has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission,
the Court has authority to reduce Defendant's sentence
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).
782 reduced Defendant's total offense level from 39 to
37. As a result, Defendant's guideline sentencing range
of 360 months to life was reduced to 292 to 360 months.
Indeed, the Government agrees that Defendant is eligible for
a sentence reduction under Amendment 782. However, the
Government maintains that a sentence reduction would be
inappropriate given the serious nature of the offenses and
Defendant's misconduct in prison. Thus, the Court has the
authority and the discretion to grant a sentence reduction.
The question is whether a sentence reduction is appropriate
given the Section 3553(a) factors.
of the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) leads to
the conclusion that a sentence reduction is not warranted in
this case. First, the nature of the offenses involved the
Defendant as a key player in a methamphetamine distribution
conspiracy. Second, as an integral part of the modus operandi
Defendant required numerous women to insert methamphetamine
packets into their vaginal tracts and walk across the border.
Thus, the nature and circumstances of the offenses weigh
against a sentence reduction. Additionally, after five months
as a fugitive, Defendant was arrested subsequent to a high
speed chase. During his arrest, Defendant struggled with law
enforcement officers and reached for a loaded gun. Defendant
stated to a law enforcement officer that, but for ...