Submitted: May 8, 2017
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Kansas City
RILEY, BEAM, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.
SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.
Cartagena pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess
with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and
846. The district court sentenced him to 156 months
imprisonment. He argues on appeal that the district court
failed to consider the Sentencing Guideline factors for
minimal-role adjustment to the offense level, erred in
denying a minimal-role adjustment, and imposed an
unreasonable sentence. We affirm.
2012, Angel Rivera began obtaining heroin for resell from
sources in Mexico. In January 2015, Angel Rivera paid
Cartagena and Frankie Rivera $10, 000 plus expenses to travel
by bus from Reading, Pennsylvania to Los Angeles with over
$250, 000 in cash. Angel Rivera instructed them to
check into a hotel in Los Angeles, where they were contacted
by Elisandra Varela and provided bundles of heroin in
exchange for the cash. At her instruction, Cartagena and
Frankie Rivera removed the cash from their own luggage and
replaced it with the bundles of heroin. Cartagena and Frankie
Rivera were then instructed by Angel Rivera to return to
Reading by bus with the heroin in tow.
the return trip Cartagena and Frankie Rivera encountered
Kansas City, Missouri Police Department drug interdiction
squad officers at the Greyhound Bus Station in Kansas City.
The officers' canine alerted on luggage later determined
to belong to Cartagena. When questioned, Cartagena explained
that he was traveling with his long-time friend Frankie
Rivera. Cartagena denied officers permission to search his
luggage. He was taken into custody and a search warrant for
the luggage was obtained and executed. In the luggage
officers found three bundles of heroin later determined to
weigh 3, 989 grams.
officers were speaking with Cartagena, other officers spoke
with Frankie Rivera, who told them that he and Cartagena had
just met. Frankie Rivera consented to the officers'
search of his luggage in which officers found three bundles
of heroin weighing 2, 991 grams in a hidden compartment.
Frankie Rivera agreed to cooperate with law enforcement and
the ensuing investigation led to the arrest and indictment of
Angel Rivera and Varela.
to sentencing, Cartagena requested a four-level reduction in
his Guideline offense level as a minimal participant in the
criminal activity pursuant to USSG § 3B1.2(a). The
presentence report did not recommend the reduction, and
Cartagena objected. The district court-after considering the
description of the offense conduct contained in the
presentence report, Cartagena's objections to the
presentence report, the probation officer's response to
Cartagena's objections, and the argument of
counsel-denied the minimal-participant
now contends that the district court committed procedural
error in failing to consider the advisory factors set forth
in the commentary to USSG § 3B1.2. The commentary
The determination whether to apply subsection (a) or
subsection (b), or an intermediate adjustment, is based on
the totality of the circumstances and involves a
determination that is heavily dependent upon the facts of the
In determining whether to apply subsection (a) or (b), or an
intermediate adjustment, the court should consider the
following non-exhaustive list of factors:
(i) the degree to which the defendant understood the scope
and structure of the criminal activity;
(ii) the degree to which the defendant participated in
planning or organizing the ...