United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
W. Lungstrum United States District Judge
September 2011, defendant Samuel Barajas was convicted by a
jury of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of
methamphetamine; aiding and abetting possession with intent
to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; and using
a communication facility (a cellular telephone) in
committing, causing and facilitating the conspiracy. Based on
a total offense level of 44, which exceeded the maximum of 43
provided for in the sentencing table, and a criminal history
category of I, Mr. Barajas's advisory guideline range was
life imprisonment and the court sentenced Mr. Barajas to life
in prison. Mr. Barajas appealed the denial of his motion to
suppress all evidence obtained from wiretap surveillance and
GPS pinging of certain cell phones. The Tenth Circuit held on
appeal that this court correctly denied the motion to
suppress and affirmed this court's decision. After Mr.
Barajas's petition for writ of certiorari was denied, he
timely filed a motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255. In his petition, Mr. Barajas asserted a
number of claims, including that his trial counsel provided
ineffective assistance in connection with Mr. Barajas's
decision to proceed to trial rather than enter a plea of
guilty. The court granted Mr. Barajas's request for an
evidentiary hearing on that claim, which it retained under
advisement, appointed counsel for litigation of that claim,
and dismissed the petition in all other respects. On January
29, 2016, the court held an evidentiary hearing on the claim
and, in a subsequent written memorandum and order, denied the
matter is now before the court on Mr. Barajas's motion
for reduction of sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2) in which he asks the court to reduce his sentence
based on Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing
Guidelines which took effect on November 1, 2014 and lowers
the base offense levels in the Drug Quantity Table. Under the
amended guidelines, Mr. Barajas's base offense level is
36 and his total offense level is 42, resulting in an amended
guideline range of 360 months to life
imprisonment. The government concedes that Mr. Barajas
is eligible for a reduction but contends that a reduction is
not warranted in light of the nature and circumstances of Mr.
Barajas's crimes of conviction, including the fact that
he was involved with very large quantities of very high
purity methamphetamine imported from Mexico and was a leader
of the conspiracy.
the Supreme Court's decision in Dillon v. United
States, 560 U.S. 817 (2010), the Tenth Circuit has
recognized that § 3582(c)(2) “prescribes a
two-step inquiry for determining whether a defendant is
entitled to have his originally-imposed sentence reduced: the
first question, a matter of law, is whether a sentence
reduction is even authorized; the second question, a
matter of discretion, is whether an authorized reduction is
in fact warranted.” United States v.
White, 765 F.3d 1240, 1245 (10th Cir. 2014) (emphasis in
original). Because the government does not dispute that a
sentence reduction is authorized in this case, only the
second question is at issue here. In determining whether a
sentence is warranted, the district court must
“consider the § 3553(a) sentencing factors,
including the nature, seriousness, and circumstances of the
offense, the history and characteristics of the defendant,
the need to protect the public from further crimes of the
defendant, and any threat to public safety.” United
States v. Meridyth, 573 Fed.Appx. 791, 794 (10th Cir.
2014) (citations omitted).
court concludes that a reduction is warranted and will
resentence Mr. Barajas to the low-end of the amended range.
In granting a reduction, the court rejects the
government's argument that no reduction whatsoever is
warranted in light of the seriousness of Mr. Barajas's
crimes. The nature and circumstances underlying Mr.
Barajas's crimes are already factored into his total
offense level-including the quantity of drugs for which he is
responsible and his leadership role in the conspiracy. Those
factors, then, do not suggest that Mr. Barajas, who is
otherwise eligible for a reduction, should be denied a
reduction. This is particularly true because the court, in
resentencing eligible defendants under Amendment 782,
endeavors to determine what sentence a particular defendant
should have received had the revised Drug Quantity Table been
in effect at that time. Had the revised Drug Quantity Table
been in effect at the time of Mr. Barajas's sentencing,
the court likely would have sentenced him to 360 months.
Finally, as highlighted by Mr. Barajas in his reply, the
government extended a plea offer to Mr. Barajas during the
§ 2255 proceedings. While the specifics of that offer
was not disclosed to the court, it clearly was something
other than life in prison and Mr. Barajas represents that the
offer proposed a range of 262 to 327 months. This clearly
indicates to the court that even under the government's
evaluation of Mr. Barajas' conduct, a sentence of life
imprisonment is more than is necessary to fulfill the
requirements of § 3553(a).
THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT THAT Mr. Barajas's motion
for reduction of sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2) (doc. 223) is granted as described herein and Mr.
Barajas's sentence is reduced from life imprisonment to
360 months imprisonment. All other provisions of the judgment
dated December 12, 2011 shall remain in effect.
IS SO ORDERED.
 Mr. Barajas asserts that his base
offense level under the amended guidelines is 34 with an
amended guideline range of 292 to 365 months imprisonment. In
his calculations, Mr. Barajas utilizes the base offense level
that corresponds to drug quantities of “at least 500 G
but less than 1.5 KG” of methamphetamine rather than
the level that corresponds to “at least 1.5 KG but less
than 4.5 KG” of methamphetamine. But as Mr. Barajas
admits, the court attributed ...