United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S PROPOSED FINDINGS AND
STEPHAN M. VIDMAR, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER is before me on Defendant Natali Arvilla Castro's
Amended Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence,
filed July 5, 2016. [CR Doc. 41; CV Doc. 5]. The United States
responded on January 27, 2017. [CR Doc. 51; CV Doc. 12].
Castro did not file a reply. The Honorable William P.
Johnson, United States District Judge, referred this matter
to me for analysis and a recommended disposition. [CV Doc.
2]. Having considered the briefing, relevant portions of the
underlying criminal record, and relevant authorities, and
being otherwise fully advised in the premises, I recommend
that the motion be denied and that case number 16-cv-0564
WJ/SMV be dismissed with prejudice.
November 12, 2013, Castro and her boyfriend were stopped in a
motel parking lot in Las Cruces, New Mexico, by agents with
the Las Cruces Metro Narcotics Unit. Presentence Report
(“PSR”) at 3-4. A search of the suitcase in the
trunk of their vehicle revealed more than 700 grams of
methamphetamine. Id. at 4-5. They told the agents
they were being paid to transport the methamphetamine from El
Paso, Texas, and distribute it in Las Cruces. Id.
Castro provided a statement to the agents. Id.;
[Doc. 51-1]. She was then turned over to agents from the
Department of Homeland Security, who transported her back to
her residence in El Paso. [Doc. 51-2]. She provided a second
statement and consented to a search of her home. Id.
The report of the DHS agents noted that both Castro and her
boyfriend were “cooperative” and “willing
to assist in every possible manner.” Id. at 2.
February 20, 2014, Castro was charged by complaint with
possession with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of
methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A),
and aiding and abetting, 18 U.S.C. § 2. [CR Doc. 1]. An
arrest warrant was issued and she was arrested on May 5,
2014. [CR Doc. 2]. On September 23, 2014, Castro pleaded
guilty to an Information charging her with conspiracy to
possess with intent to distribute 5 grams and more of
methamphetamine in violation of §§ 841(a)(1),
841(b)(1)(B), 846. [CR Docs. 21, 24]. On July 28, 2015, the
date of her sentencing, a second Information was filed,
charging her with conspiracy to possess with intent to
distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable
amount of methamphetamine in violation of §§
841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C), 846. [CR Doc. 33]. She entered a
second plea agreement based on the new charging document. [CR
Doc. 35]. Both plea agreements included waivers of the right
to appeal the conviction and sentence, so long as the
sentence did not exceed the statutory maximum. [CR Doc. 24]
at 7; [CR Doc. 35] at 6. The waivers extended to collateral
attacks on her conviction and sentence, except as to claims
for ineffective assistance of counsel. Id. The Court
sentenced Castro to 45 months' imprisonment. [CR Doc.
36]. Castro did not appeal her conviction or sentence. The
instant case is her first motion under § 2255.
proceeding pro se, moves for relief pursuant to § 2255.
She asserts one claim for relief, which she characterizes as
“[i]ncomp[e]t[e]ncy.” [Doc. 5] at 5.
Specifically, she contends that she “was under the
abuse of alcohol” and “was not on [her] right
state of mind.” Id. She states that she
“do[es] not have any memory of the night of Feb[ruary]
17, 2014.” Id. She notes that she does not
have any “history of violence.” Id.
response, the government requests that Castro's motion be
denied and her claim dismissed on three bases. First, it
points out that Castro refers to events that took place on
February 17, 2014. Her conviction in the present case,
however, stems from events that took place on November 12,
2013. Therefore, her sole claim refers to a crime not at
issue in this case. [Doc. 12] at 6. Second, the government
argues that Castro waived her right to appeal or collaterally
attack her conviction and sentence and requests that the
Court enforce the waiver. Id. at 7-12. Finally, to
the extent the Court construes Castro's claim as one of
ineffective assistance of counsel, the government argues that
she fails to make a showing that her representation was
constitutionally deficient. Id. at 12-16.
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a),
[a] prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established
by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the
ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the
Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court
was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the
sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or
is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court
which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct
motion under § 2255 must allege facts that, if proven,
would warrant relief from the conviction or sentence. See
Hatch v. Oklahoma, 58 F.3d 1447, 1471 (10th Cir. 1995);
Rodriguez v. State of New Mexico, 12 F.3d
175, 176 (10th Cir. 1993) (per curiam). Because Castro is
proceeding pro se, I construe her filings liberally. See
Andrews v. Heaton, 483 F.3d 1070, 1076 (10th Cir.
2007); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th
claim is without merit, and her amended motion should be
denied. Castro seeks relief on the ground that she
was intoxicated and “not on [her] right state of
mind” at the time of the incident leading to her
conviction. [Doc. 5] at 5. She does not specify any
particular legal ground that would entitle her to relief
under § 2255. Even if I were to construe her motion as
alleging a cognizable violation, it would not matter.
Castro's sole claim refers to a separate incident than
that which led to her conviction in the present case.
criminal conviction in the present case stemmed from events
that took place on November 12, 2013. See [CR Doc.
33] (charging document); [CR Doc. 35] at 4 (plea agreement);
[CR Doc. 46] at 10 (transcript of plea hearing). But in her
motion, Castro refers to an incident that took place on
February 17, 2014. [Doc. 5] at 5. As the government points
out in its response, Castro has a separate assault conviction
in Texas state court from an incident that took place on
February 17, 2014. PSR at 7. According to the PSR, Castro was
arrested that day following a domestic disturbance during
which she apparently became upset following an argument and
scratched her boyfriend's face or neck. Id. The
responding officers reported that Castro's father and
boyfriend were restraining her until the police arrived.
Id. She was convicted of assault causing bodily
injury to a family member. Id.
were a mere transcription error, Castro had the opportunity
to say so in a reply to the government's response, which
pointed out the discrepancy. Castro filed no reply.
Additional details in the record further suggest that
Castro's amended motion refers to the events of February
17, 2014, leading to her assault conviction, and not the
incidents of November 12, 2013, leading to the instant drug
conviction. In her amended motion, Castro states that she
“do[es] not have a history of violence” and
suggests that she never “would have . . . done
this” if she had not been intoxicated. [Doc. 5] at 5.
She thus suggests that her intoxication led her to behave in
a violent manner. The record contains no evidence that she
displayed any degree of violence on November 12, 2013; on the
contrary, agents described her as “cooperative”