Submitted: December 10, 2018
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - St. Paul
LOKEN, MELLOY, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
Reyes-Ramirez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to
distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A) and 846. The Presentence
Investigation Report (PSR) recommended finding that
Reyes-Ramirez was an organizer or leader of an extensive
conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from California to
Minnesota and imposing a four-level enhancement under USSG
§ 3B1.1(a). At sentencing, sustaining
Reyes-Ramirez's objections to the PSR in part, the
district court found, consistent with the
government's position, that he was a manager or
supervisor of the criminal activity and imposed the
three-level enhancement in § 3B1.1(b), resulting in an
advisory guidelines range of 262 to 327 months in prison. The
district court varied downward significantly and sentenced
Reyes-Ramirez to 144 months. He appeals, arguing the district
court clearly erred in imposing the three-level role
enhancement. We affirm. See United States v. Gaines,
639 F.3d 423, 427-28 (8th Cir. 2011) (standard of review).
recite pertinent facts from the PSR to which Reyes-Ramirez
did not object or as to which his objections were overruled.
On May 12, 2015, Iowa law enforcement stopped Eloy Flores
driving a rental car loaded with eight kilograms of
methamphetamine. Flores informed officers that, acting on
instructions from Reyes-Ramirez, Flores had rented the
vehicle in California, picked up methamphetamine in Orange
County, and was transporting the illegal drugs to Minnesota,
where he was instructed to contact Reyes-Ramirez for
directions regarding delivery.
cooperating individual (CI) then contacted Reyes-Ramirez and
was told to rent a hotel room in Minnesota, deliver one half
of the methamphetamine to Reyes-Ramirez's sister,
Leticia, and await further instructions regarding delivery of
the second half of the shipment. After renting the hotel
room, the CI delivered four of eight packages of
methamphetamine to Leticia, who arrived in a car registered
to Reyes-Ramirez. Leticia told the CI to deliver the
remaining methamphetamine to Adan Flores-Lagonas at an
address in Austin, Minnesota. Leticia was arrested upon
leaving the hotel room. She informed officers that she had
received $8, 000 from Flores-Lagonas earlier that day, that
Reyes-Ramirez directed her to deposit the money in a Wells
Fargo bank account, and that she had previously deposited
money into various bank accounts and sent money to Mexico at
declining to impose a four-level role in the offense
enhancement, the district court sustained Reyes-Ramirez's
objections to statements in the PSR that he "deposited
drug proceeds for his personal benefit, rather than for the
benefit of the drug-trafficking organization, and to the
extent that they state that he directed members of the Flores
family." The court adopted the remaining fact statements
in the PSR. In imposing the three-level role enhancement, the
Defendant regularly provided logistical instructions to his
U.S.-based co-conspirators regarding drug-trafficking
conduct, and he recruited his sister to assist in the
conspiracy. However, he engaged in this conduct at the
direction of other unindicted co-conspirators. . . . There is
no evidence that Defendant exercised any independent
discretion in providing instructions to domestic
co-conspirators and there is no evidence that he claimed a
larger share of the drug-trafficking conspiracy than his
co-defendants or co-conspirators. The Court concludes that a
3-level manager enhancement accurately reflects
three-level enhancement is warranted "[i]f the defendant
was a manager or supervisor (but not an organizer or leader)
and the criminal activity involved five or more participants
or was otherwise extensive." USSG § 3B1.1(b).
Reyes-Ramirez concedes this conspiracy involved five or more
participants. In distinguishing a four-level leadership role
from a three-level management role, the Guidelines direct a
court to consider multiple factors:
the exercise of decision making authority, the nature of
participation in the commission of the offense, the
recruitment of accomplices, the claimed right to a larger
share of the fruits of the crime, the degree of participation
in planning or organizing the offense, the nature and scope
of the illegal activity, and the degree of control and
authority exercised over others.
§ 3B1.1, comment. (n.4). We construe the terms
"manager" and "supervisor" broadly.
Gaines, 639 F.3d at 428. The enhancement may apply
even if a defendant managed or supervised only one person in
a single transaction. United States v. Garrison, 168
F.3d 1089, 1095-96 (8th Cir. 1999).
case, the district court carefully weighed the relevant
factors in finding that Reyes-Ramirez warranted a three-level
manager, but not a four-level leadership role enhancement. We
have no difficulty concluding there was no clear error.
Reyes-Ramirez provided courier Flores instructions and
logistical support in bringing eight kilograms of
methamphetamine from California to Minnesota. As in
United States v. Pierce, Reyes-Ramirez was the
"key link" between the conspiracy's source of
supply in California and its local distributors in Minnesota.
907 F.2d 56, 57 (8th Cir. 1990). When the drugs arrived in
Minnesota, Reyes-Ramirez instructed a CI by telephone where
to bring them and how to deliver them to two local
co-conspirators. Thus, as in United States v.
Moreno, Reyes-Ramirez "supervised the
conspiracy's [Minnesota] deliveries and payments."
679 F.3d 1003, 1005 (8th Cir. 2012). "The fact that
[Reyes-Ramirez] reported to others in the conspiracy does not
negate his role in managing and supervising the activities of
a co-conspirator." United States v. Rodriguez,
741 F.3d 908, 912 (8th ...