FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO [Hon. Carmen Consuelo Cerezo, U.S. District
E. Mudd and Law Offices of John E. Mudd, by appointment of
the court, on brief for appellant.
Kathryn Debrason, Assistant United States Attorney, Mariana
E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States Attorney,
Chief, Appellate Division, and Rosa Emilia
Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, on
brief for appellee.
Howard, Chief Judge, Lynch and Thompson, Circuit Judges.
a sentencing appeal. Angel Morales-De Jesus
("Morales") pleaded guilty to leading a large drug
distribution conspiracy in Puerto Rico housing projects over
a five-year period and to the use and carrying of a firearm
in connection with that drug offense. His plea agreement
calculated an offense level of 31 for the conspiracy charge
and recommended a total sentence of 180 months'
calculations in the presentence report (PSR) and the later
addendum to the PSR were far less generous to Morales in the
offense level and recommendations. The first PSR also
recounted that the estimated gross drug proceeds were just
under $5 million. At sentencing, the district court
calculated a higher offense level than the plea agreement:
33, and imposed a longer total sentence: 228 months'
appeal, Morales challenges first the district court's
application of a four-level leadership enhancement under
U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(a) and second the sentence's
substantive reasonableness. There was no error at all on
either assertion and so we affirm.
least 2010 until 2015, Morales led a drug trafficking
organization. His organization distributed crack cocaine,
cocaine, marijuana, and other controlled substances in public
housing projects in Patillas, Puerto Rico. Morales was
arrested on April 22, 2015.
September 2016, Morales entered into a plea agreement. He
pleaded guilty to possession of, among other things, between
five and fifteen kilograms of cocaine with intent to
distribute it, and to using or carrying a firearm in relation
to that drug offense. The parties agreed to recommend that
Morales receive a two-level leadership enhancement for the
conspiracy charge,  putting his offense level at thirty-one.
The parties also agreed to recommend the applicable mandatory
minimum sentences: 120 months for the conspiracy charge and
60 months for the firearm charge, to be served consecutively,
for a total of 180 months' imprisonment. At the close of
Morales's change of plea hearing, the magistrate judge
recommended that the district court accept the guilty plea.
months later, a probation officer prepared Morales's PSR.
That report listed twenty-eight co-defendants alongside
Morales. Unlike the plea agreement, the PSR recommended a
four-level leadership enhancement -- bringing Morales's
offense level to 33 -- based on his actions as "the main
leader of the drug trafficking organization, which involved
five or more participants." See U.S.S.G. §
3B1.1(a). The PSR listed 28 co-conspirators in addition to
Morales by name and position. Morales's criminal history
category at that time was III, but that did not include a
state offense described below.
February 2017, before federal sentencing, Morales pleaded
guilty to Puerto Rico offenses unrelated to the federal
offenses. The state plea agreement exposed Morales to
thirteen years' state imprisonment. In light of this
development, the probation office filed an addendum to the
original PSR. This addendum noted that "[Morales's]
criminal history category substantially under-represents the
seriousness of the [sic] his criminal history or the
likelihood that he will commit other crimes." It
observed that the inadequacy of Morales's criminal
history category might warrant an upward departure.
district court sentenced Morales in May 2017. It applied the
four-level leadership enhancement, ...