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United States v. Mondragon

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

June 21, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
MARIO ALBERTO MONDRAGON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: March 24, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, at Statesville. Richard L. Voorhees, District Judge. (5:14-cr-00058-RLV-DSC-1)

         ARGUED:

          Richard Lamb Brown, Jr., LAW OFFICES OF RICHARD L. BROWN, JR., Monroe, North Carolina, for Appellant.

          Elizabeth Margaret Greenough, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Charlotte, North Carolina, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Jill Westmoreland Rose, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Charlotte, North Carolina, for Appellee.

          Before NIEMEYER, MOTZ, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.

         Affirmed by published opinion. Judge Niemeyer wrote the opinion, in which Judge Motz and Judge Diaz joined.

          NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge.

         After Mario Mondragon was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, the district court sentenced him to 360 months' imprisonment. In determining Mondragon's sentence, the court applied a two-level enhancement for possession of a weapon, as provided in U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(1) - an enhancement designed to "reflect[] the increased danger of violence when drug traffickers possess weapons, " id. § 2D1.1(b)(1) cmt. n.11(A). In doing so, the court relied on statements from two coconspirators, one who first met Mondragon during and as part of the conspiracy and who reported that he "saw Mondragon take apart or 'break down' a revolver pistol while at [the coconspirator's] residence, " and the other who reported that he had seen "Mondragon with at least two handguns" in the past.

         Challenging the district court's application of the enhancement, Mondragon argues that the record does not show that his firearm possession bore any relation to his drug-trafficking activities and therefore that the enhancement does not apply. We conclude, however, that the government provided the district court with sufficient evidence to support a finding that Mondragon possessed a firearm in connection with his drug-distribution activities, and accordingly we affirm.

         I

         Following Mondragon's arrest in June 2014, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging him in one count with participation in a conspiracy from 2012 until June 2014 to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846, and in a second count with possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine on July 13, 2013, as well as aiding and abetting the ...


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