Eighth Circuit - Drug Offenses

United States v. Jefferson, 975 F.3d 700 (8th Cir. 2020). The court did not clearly err in applying §2D1.1(b)(12)’s two-level enhancement for maintaining a drug premises. While the defendant’s name was not on the lease, he directed customers to pick up drugs from the home and stored drugs and drug paraphernalia there.

United States v. Hodgkiss, 960 F.3d 1110 (8th Cir. 2020). Statutory eligibility for safety valve excludes a defendant who possesses a firearm or other dangerous weapon in connection with the offense. In this context, “offense” means “offense of conviction,” not a defendant’s “relevant conduct” as determined by the Guidelines. A defendant who pleaded to a drug distribution offense (April 2018) was eligible for statutory safety valve despite a § 924(c) conviction (June 2018) relating to another drug offense.

United States v. Wickman, 988 F.3d 1065 (8th Cir. 2021). The sentence in a methamphetamine trafficking case was substantively reasonable, even though the court did not join other courts in the District of Minnesota in varying downward on the grounds that the sentencing guidelines “for pure methamphetamine, as compared to those for methamphetamine mixtures, create a sentencing disparity between similarly situated defendants.” The Court of Appeals noted it would not “compel a district court to diverge from the [sentencing guidelines] in accordance with a defendant’s proffered policy reasons.”

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