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United States v. Flores-Alvarado

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

March 3, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
MARCO ANTONIO FLORES-ALVARADO, a/k/a Guero, Defendant - Appellant

Argued December 11, 2014

Page 251

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Wilmington. (7:12-cr-00089-BO-5). Terrence W. Boyle, District Judge.

ARGUED:

Wayne Buchanan Eads, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant.

Yvonne Victoria Watford-McKinney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Thomas G. Walker, United States Attorney, Jennifer P. May-Parker, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.

Before TRAXLER, Chief Judge, and WYNN and HARRIS, Circuit Judges. Chief Judge Traxler wrote the opinion, in which Judge Wynn and Judge Harris joined.

OPINION

Page 252

TRAXLER, Chief Judge

Marco Antonio Flores-Alvarado pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana, see 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1), 846, and possession with intent to distribute (" PWID" ) more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, see 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The district court sentenced Flores-Alvarado to life imprisonment on the conspiracy charge and a concurrent term of 480 months' imprisonment on the PWID charge. Flores-Alvarado appeals, raising several challenges to his sentence. Because the district court failed to make the required factual findings regarding the drug quantity attributed to Flores-Alvarado, we vacate and remand for re-sentencing.

I.

According to the information in the presentence report (" PSR" ), Flores-Alvarado and codefendant Enrique Mendoza-Figueroa ran two related drug trafficking organizations in North Carolina. Flores-Alvarado and Mendoza-Figueroa used multiple sources in Mexico and the United States for their marijuana and cocaine and " routinely bought and sold large amounts of drugs from each other." J.A. 107.

In calculating the advisory Guidelines range, the PSR recommended that Flores-Alvarado be held accountable for at least 3886.3 kilograms of marijuana and 136.125 kilograms of cocaine, which converted to a total marijuana equivalent of 31,111.16 kilograms. Included in these quantities were drugs seized from houses in Stokesdale, North Carolina (the " Stokesdale Seizure" ), and Lexington, Kentucky (the " Lexington Seizure" ). The PSR described those seizures as follows:

12. On April 25, 2011, agents determined that Flores-Alvarado was involved in the distribution of a large shipment of marijuana from Stokesdale, North Carolina, to Shannon, North Carolina. Agents subsequently seized 1,424 pounds (645.9 kilograms) of marijuana from a residence in Stokesdale. Following this seizure, Flores-Alvarado stopped using one of the target telephone numbers ...

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