United States v. Torres-Hernandez, No. 15-41654 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Defendant pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute 95 kilograms of marijuana and was sentenced to 57 months in prison. On appeal, defendant contends that because his participation in this drug trafficking offense was limited to carrying a bundle of marijuana on his back across the border between Texas and Mexico, the district court erred in failing to grant a downward adjustment of his offense level. Defendant argues that under USSG 3B1.2, in light of Amendment 794, which became effective on November 1, 2015, he played a minor role in the offense and should have received a two-level reduction. The court concluded that the commentary to section 3B1.2, including the explanations in Amendment 794 for the revisions to that commentary, does not require, as a matter of law, that an adjustment must be made for transporters such as defendant. The commentary and Amendment 794 instead confirm that there are many factors that a sentencing court should consider, and how those factors are weighed remains within the sentencing court’s discretion. The Guidelines expressly provide that whether to grant a reduction in the offense level based on a defendant’s participation in the offense “involves a determination that is heavily dependent upon the facts of the particular case.” Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.