Jesus Arellanes-Portillo pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, money laundering, and immigration offenses and challenged the district court’s 3-level role enhancement to Arellanes-Portillo’s offense level for the money laundering counts.
On appeal, the Tenth Circuit held that the district court plainly erred in basing the role enhancement on Arellanes-Portillo’s related drug offenses rather than exclusively on his money laundering offenses. Under Application Note 2(C) to the money laundering guideline, USSG 2S1.1, any role enhancement “shall be determined based on the offense covered by this guideline (i.e., the laundering of criminally derived funds) and not on the underlying offense from which the laundered funds were derived.” The court had treated Arellanes-Portillo’s relevant conduct under USSG 1B1.3, as related to his drug offenses, as relevant conduct for his money laundering offenses, effectively capturing the entire offenses under the umbrella of “relevant conduct.” This was plain and reversible error, the court held, as “the government must justify an aggravating-role adjustment for money-laundering convictions with money-laundering relevant conduct.”
Appeal from the District of Kansas
Opinion by Phillips, joined by Bacharach and Seymour
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