Castro v. United States of America
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION by Magistrate Judge Stephan M. Vidmar to DENY 5 Ms. Castro's Amended Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence. Objections to PF&RD are due by October 6, 2017. A dd 3 days to the deadline if service is by mailing it to the person's last known address (or means described in Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b)(2)(D) and (F)); if service is by electronic means, no additional days are added. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(d); Fed. R. Crim. P. 45(c).) (sg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
NATALI ARVILLA CASTRO,
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION
THIS MATTER is before me on Defendant Natali Arvilla Castro’s Amended Motion to
Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence, filed July 5, 2016.1 [CR Doc. 41; CV Doc. 5]. The
United States responded on January 27, 2017. [CR Doc. 51; CV Doc. 12]. Castro did not file a
reply. The Honorable William P. Johnson, United States District Judge, referred this matter to
me for analysis and a recommended disposition. [CV Doc. 2]. Having considered the briefing,
relevant portions of the underlying criminal record, and relevant authorities, and being otherwise
fully advised in the premises, I recommend that the motion be denied and that case
number 16-cv-0564 WJ/SMV be dismissed with prejudice.
Castro initially filed a motion requesting permission to file a successive § 2255 motion in this case. [CV Doc. 1].
She had not, however, previously filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to § 2255.
Therefore, I entered an order notifying her of my intent to re-characterize her motion as a first § 2255 motion and
granting her leave to amend or withdraw the motion. [CV Doc. 3]. She then filed an amended motion, which is the
subject of my findings and recommended disposition. [CR Doc. 41; CV Doc. 5].
On November 12, 2013, Castro and her boyfriend were stopped in a motel parking lot in
Las Cruces, New Mexico, by agents with the Las Cruces Metro Narcotics Unit. Presentence
Report (“PSR”) at 3–4. A search of the suitcase in the trunk of their vehicle revealed more than
700 grams of methamphetamine. Id. at 4–5. They told the agents they were being paid to
transport the methamphetamine from El Paso, Texas, and distribute it in Las Cruces. Id. Castro
provided a statement to the agents. Id.; [Doc. 51-1]. She was then turned over to agents from
the Department of Homeland Security, who transported her back to her residence in El Paso.
[Doc. 51-2]. She provided a second statement and consented to a search of her home. Id. The
report of the DHS agents noted that both Castro and her boyfriend were “cooperative” and
“willing to assist in every possible manner.” Id. at 2.
On February 20, 2014, Castro was charged by complaint with possession with intent to
distribute 50 grams and more of methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and
aiding and abetting, 18 U.S.C. § 2. [CR Doc. 1]. An arrest warrant was issued and she was
arrested on May 5, 2014. [CR Doc. 2]. On September 23, 2014, Castro pleaded guilty to an
Information charging her with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 grams and more
of methamphetamine in violation of §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), 846. [CR Docs. 21, 24]. On
July 28, 2015, the date of her sentencing, a second Information was filed, charging her with
conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable
amount of methamphetamine in violation of §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C), 846. [CR Doc. 33]. She
entered a second plea agreement based on the new charging document. [CR Doc. 35]. Both plea
agreements included waivers of the right to appeal the conviction and sentence, so long as the
sentence did not exceed the statutory maximum. [CR Doc. 24] at 7; [CR Doc. 35] at 6. The
waivers extended to collateral attacks on her conviction and sentence, except as to claims for
ineffective assistance of counsel. Id. The Court sentenced Castro to 45 months’ imprisonment.
[CR Doc. 36]. Castro did not appeal her conviction or sentence. The instant case is her first
motion under § 2255.
Castro, proceeding pro se, moves for relief pursuant to § 2255. She asserts one claim for
relief, which she characterizes as “[i]ncomp[e]t[e]ncy.”
[Doc. 5] 2 at 5.
contends that she “was under the abuse of alcohol” and “was not on [her] right state of mind.”
Id. She states that she “do[es] not have any memory of the night of Feb[ruary] 17, 2014.” Id.
She notes that she does not have any “history of violence.” Id.
In response, the government requests that Castro’s motion be denied and her claim
dismissed on three bases. First, it points out that Castro refers to events that took place on
February 17, 2014. Her conviction in the present case, however, stems from events that took
place on November 12, 2013. Therefore, her sole claim refers to a crime not at issue in this case.
[Doc. 12] at 6. Second, the government argues that Castro waived her right to appeal or
collaterally attack her conviction and sentence and requests that the Court enforce the waiver.
Id. at 7–12. Finally, to the extent the Court construes Castro’s claim as one of ineffective
assistance of counsel, the government argues that she fails to make a showing that her
representation was constitutionally deficient. Id. at 12–16.
Unless specifically noted otherwise, citations to document numbers refer to the docket in the civil case, case
number 16-cv-0564 WJ/SMV.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a),
[a] prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act
of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that
the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws
of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to
impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the
maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral
attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate,
set aside or correct the sentence.
A motion under § 2255 must allege facts that, if proven, would warrant relief from the conviction
or sentence. See Hatch v. Oklahoma, 58 F.3d 1447, 1471 (10th Cir. 1995); Rodriguez v. State of
New Mexico, 12 F.3d 175, 176 (10th Cir. 1993) (per curiam). Because Castro is proceeding pro
se, I construe her filings liberally.
See Andrews v. Heaton, 483 F.3d 1070, 1076
(10th Cir. 2007); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).
Castro’s claim is without merit, and her amended motion should be denied.3 Castro seeks
relief on the ground that she was intoxicated and “not on [her] right state of mind” at the time of
the incident leading to her conviction. [Doc. 5] at 5. She does not specify any particular legal
ground that would entitle her to relief under § 2255. Even if I were to construe her motion as
alleging a cognizable violation, it would not matter. Castro’s sole claim refers to a separate
incident than that which led to her conviction in the present case.
Castro’s criminal conviction in the present case stemmed from events that took place on
November 12, 2013.
See [CR Doc. 33] (charging document); [CR Doc. 35] at 4
(plea agreement); [CR Doc. 46] at 10 (transcript of plea hearing). But in her motion, Castro
No evidentiary hearing is required in this case. See Hatch, 58 F.3d at 1471.
refers to an incident that took place on February 17, 2014. [Doc. 5] at 5. As the government
points out in its response, Castro has a separate assault conviction in Texas state court from an
incident that took place on February 17, 2014. PSR at 7. According to the PSR, Castro was
arrested that day following a domestic disturbance during which she apparently became upset
following an argument and scratched her boyfriend’s face or neck. Id. The responding officers
reported that Castro’s father and boyfriend were restraining her until the police arrived. Id. She
was convicted of assault causing bodily injury to a family member. Id.
If this were a mere transcription error, Castro had the opportunity to say so in a reply to
the government’s response, which pointed out the discrepancy. Castro filed no reply. Additional
details in the record further suggest that Castro’s amended motion refers to the events of
February 17, 2014, leading to her assault conviction, and not the incidents of November 12,
2013, leading to the instant drug conviction. In her amended motion, Castro states that she
“do[es] not have a history of violence” and suggests that she never “would have . . . done this” if
she had not been intoxicated. [Doc. 5] at 5. She thus suggests that her intoxication led her to
behave in a violent manner. The record contains no evidence that she displayed any degree of
violence on November 12, 2013; on the contrary, agents described her as “cooperative” and
“willing to assist” with their investigation. See [Doc. 51-2] at 2. Conversely, her assault charge
from February 17, 2014, arose from a domestic disturbance in which she did display violent
behavior. See PSR at 7.
The only ground for relief that Castro provides in her amended motion does not pertain to
the incident that led to her conviction in the present case. Castro does not state any facts that, if
proven, would entitle her to relief. Therefore, I recommend that her motion be denied. I need
not consider the validity of her appellate waiver or any ineffective-assistance-of-counsel or other
IT IS THEREFORE RECOMMENDED that Defendant Natali Arvilla Castro’s
Amended Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence [CR Doc. 41; CV Doc. 5] be
DENIED and that case number 16-cv-0564 WJ/SMV be DISMISSED with prejudice.
THE PARTIES ARE FURTHER NOTIFIED THAT WITHIN FOURTEEN DAYS OF
SERVICE of a copy of these Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition, they may
file written objections with the Clerk of the District Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
A party must file any written objections with the Clerk of the District Court within the
fourteen-day period if that party wants to have appellate review of the proposed
findings and recommended disposition. See D.N.M.LR-Civ. 10.1. If no objections are
filed, no appellate review will be allowed.
STEPHAN M. VIDMAR
United States Magistrate Judge
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