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In an unpublished opinion, United States v. Fernandini, No. 14-2203, the Second Circuit affirmed a within-Guidelines life sentence for the leader of a violent drug trafficking organization over procedural and substantive reasonableness challenges.
Fernandini pleaded guilty to (i) conspiracy to traffic narcotics; (ii) using a firearm to commit murder in furtherance of the conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 924(j)(1); and (iii) discharging the firearm in furtherance of the conspiracy, § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii). In affirming, the Circuit noted that “Fernandini was the leader of a notorious and ruthless gang for nearly a decade. As gang leader, he significantly increased the quantity of narcotics the organization imported and enforced the organization’s territory with violence, including killing or ordering the killing of rival gang members.”
On the government’s consent, however, the Circuit vacated the § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii) discharging count, as it was a lesser included offense of the § 924(j)(1) count, on which the district court imposed a life sentence.
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