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United States v. Garcia

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 17, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Ramon Garcia, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted November 14, 2014

Page 473

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Nebraska - Lincoln.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Bruce Gillan, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Lincoln, NE.

For Ramon Garcia, Defendant - Appellant: Korey L. Reiman, REIMAN LAW FIRM, Lincoln, NE.

Ramon Garcia, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Bradford, PA.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, BEAM and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 474

PER CURIAM.

On October 23, 2013, the government filed a one-count indictment against Ramon Garcia and six co-defendants charging them with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture containing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a), 846. Garcia pled guilty without a plea agreement. After a two-day sentencing hearing, the district court[1] concluded that Garcia was responsible for over 15 kilograms of a mixture containing methamphetamine, which resulted in a base offense level of 38 under United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual (U.S.S.G.) § 2D1.1(c)(1).[2] Garcia also received a two-level enhancement under § 2D1.1(b)(12) for maintaining a premise for the purpose of distributing a controlled substance, and a three-level enhancement under § 3B1.1(b) for being a manager or supervisor in criminal activity involving five or more participants. After applying a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility, the district court calculated Garcia's total offense level at 40 and imposed a within-Guidelines range sentence of 292 months. On appeal, Garcia argues that the district court erred by incorrectly calculating his base offense level, relying on inadmissible hearsay in determining that Garcia had maintained a stash house, concluding that he was a manager or supervisor, and refusing to impose a sentence below the Guidelines range. We affirm.

Garcia first argues that the district court's drug quantity calculation was based solely on " extrapolation and conjecture" and was therefore unsupported by the evidence. " We review the district court's factual finding of drug quantity for clear error and will reverse a determination of drug quantity only if the entire record definitely and firmly convinces us that a mistake has been made." United States v. Minnis, 489 F.3d 325, 329 (8th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation omitted). " Where there is no drug seizure or the amount seized does not reflect the scale of the offense, the court shall approximate the quantity of the controlled substance." U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1 cmt. n.5. " Moreover, the court can determine drug quantity using imprecise evidence, so long as the record reflects a basis for the court's decision." United States v. Zimmer, 299 F.3d 710, 720 (8th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation omitted). After carefully reviewing the sentencing record, we hold that the district court did not clearly err in holding Garcia responsible for at least 15 kilograms of methamphetamine. The record instead indicates that the district court's quantity determination was well reasoned and supported by witness testimony. Garcia's argument that the district court incorrectly calculated his base offense level is therefore without merit.

Garcia next argues that the district court erred in applying a two-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(12) after concluding that he maintained a premises in Lincoln, Nebraska, for the purpose of transporting and distributing

Page 475

methamphetamine. The stash house enhancement " applies to a defendant who knowingly maintains a premises (i.e., a building, room, or enclosure) for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance, including storage of a controlled substance for the purpose of distribution." U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(12) cmt. n.17. " We review factual findings that [Garcia] maintained the premises for the purpose of distributing methamphetamine for clear error." United States v. Miller, 698 F.3d 699, 705 (8th Cir. 2012). " Among the factors the court should consider in determining whether the defendant 'maintained' the premises are: (A) whether the defendant held a possessory interest in (e.g., owned or ...


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