FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. George A. O'Toole, U.S. District
B. Demissie and Demissie & Church on brief for appellant.
Jennifer Hay Zacks, Assistant United States Attorney, and
Andrew E. Lelling, United States Attorney, on brief for
Torruella, Boudin, and Barron, Circuit Judges.
BOUDIN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Rodríguez pled guilty to conspiring to possess and
distribute heroin and fentanyl, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 846, and was sentenced to sixty-six months in prison.
She now appeals to contest her sentence, disputing the
district court's drug quantity determination.
Rodríguez admitted that, from July 2014 through
September 23, 2015, she received heroin from her boyfriend
Dedwin Cruz-Rivera on a regular basis, much of which she then
supplied to her son William ("Will")
Rodríguez, who distributed it to low-level resellers
and users. As part of its investigation, the government
wiretapped María and Will Rodríguez's
phones for one and two months, respectively, during the
fifteen-month conspiracy. Their dealings were corroborated by
intercepts of Cruz-Rivera's phone, which was tapped for
about sixth months over the course of a year.
2017, María Rodríguez pled guilty without a
plea agreement. The government's theory at sentencing was
that María Rodríguez was her son's sole
source of heroin and all drugs handled by him should be
attributed to her. Based on its review of 140 intercepted
conversations from María and Will
Rodríguez's phones, the government estimated that
during the three-month span of the wiretaps, Will
Rodríguez had distributed at least 1, 261 grams of
heroin and María Rodríguez had distributed at
least 200 grams of heroin to customers other than Will. This
made María Rodríguez responsible for at least
1, 461 grams of heroin. The government only included
intercepts where a deal for a specific amount of heroin was
struck, assigned the lowest conceivable value to any
transaction where the drug amount was ambiguous, and did not
extrapolate beyond the three months of wiretap data it had
collected despite evidence that María Rodríguez
and her son were distributing heroin throughout the entire
presentence report ("PSR") agreed with the
government's analysis of the intercepts, but because the
amounts of heroin attributed to María Rodríguez
were based on "wiretaps and estimates," and Will
Rodríguez "could have had an alternative source
of supply unknown to the government," the PSR said it
was "reasonable, if not conservative, to conclude that
[she was] accountable for at least 700 grams, but not more
than 1 kilogram of heroin." PSR ¶ 92. Although both
parties initially objected to the PSR's calculation of
drug quantity, defense counsel later accepted probation's
district court ruled that the PSR understated María
Rodríguez's involvement and that the probation
officer's hypothetical adjustment stemmed from
speculation, not fact. Instead, the court adopted the
government's estimate and found María
Rodríguez responsible for more than one kilogram of
heroin, resulting in a base offense level of thirty. Granting
a two-level reduction in offense level for a safety valve
proffer, a three-level reduction for acceptance of
responsibility, and a criminal history category of I, the
district court fixed the guideline sentencing range
("GSR") as fifty-seven to seventy-one months of
imprisonment and imposed a sentence of sixty-six months.
only issue on appeal is the district court's drug
quantity determination. Factual findings by the district
court as to drug quantity are reviewed for clear error,
United States v. Rodríguez-Lozada, 558 F.3d
29, 42 (1st Cir. 2009), and no such error occurred here.
sentencing judge's task in attributing drug quantity in a
distribution conspiracy is challenging. Important though is
the calculation, see U.S.S.G § 2D1.1(c), the
sentencing judge is often given limited data to work with and
typically lacks the type of resources mustered for a trial.
Thus, the sentencing guidelines require only that the
district court "approximate the amount" of drugs at
issue, id. § 2D1.1 cmt. n.5, and "we
uphold such an approximation as long as it represents a
reasoned estimate of quantity," United States v.
Webster, 54 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 1995).
the district court sensibly concluded that the government had
presented a reasonable, and likely quite conservative,
estimate of the heroin attributable to María
Rodríguez, and that the PSR had reduced it without
good cause. The government described how it had interpreted
the intercepted conversations from María and Will
Rodríguez's phones. Given that defense counsel did
not contest those interpretations, the district court
reasonably accepted that the government's account of the
transactions caught on the intercepts was sound.
counsel's main objection was that the government's
analysis held María Rodríguez accountable for
all of Will Rodríguez's sales even where there was
no direct evidence that she was involved. The district court
did not ascribe all of Will Rodríguez's sales to
María Rodríguez, but instead determined that
she was responsible for over one kilogram of heroin based
upon several considerations: the "snapshots" of
Will Rodríguez's drug transactions caught on the
intercepts, the evidence María Rodríguez was
her son's "principal supplier," their ongoing
relationship at the time the wiretaps began, and the
conservative amounts counted by the government's
analysis. During months of physical surveillance and
wiretapped conversations, Will Rodríguez never bought
or spoke about buying heroin from anyone but his mother, even
when she could not supply him with the heroin he requested. A
sentencing judge may "draw reasonable inferences from
information contained in the sentencing record,"
United States v. ...