Angel Lerma -- #57970-080

10 Years - Marijuana Conspiracy

Angel Lerma, prisoner of the drug war
I am a prisoner of war being held captive at a prison camp in West Texas. I am just starting my 5th year in captivity for pot/hemp. For the uninitiated, the Fed sentences are based on amounts, like X amount of substances or money equals X amount of months in federal gulags. The amounts are arrived at by the paid testimony (testilying) of rats trying to save their own sorry hides.

The federal U.S. Attorneys (USA's) actually get away with paying these rats with cold cash or what's more precious than cash: less time in prison! What is strange is that any ridiculous amount the rat fantasizes about; you are sentenced for it! There is no standard of proof at sentencing, what the sainted rat says, by golly is the truth and they are always more credible than you, even though they are getting thousands of dollars and staying out of prison. That is the nature of the beast in the fed.

The court appoints you an attorney whose only job is to get you to plead guilty no matter what. They promise you the sky, hand your head to the USA's and stand by while they sentence you to fantastic absurdities. I got caught up in the standard "conspiracy", i.e. no proof needed to convict. In a conspiracy you have to prove a negative, that's why the feds win close to 98% of their cases. Once you are dragged before a jury on a conspiracy, you are "guilty until proven innocent". The jury looks at you and thinks automatically that you are guilty by association, which IS conspiracy.

My court appointed attorney duped me into pleading guilty to an "attempt" to possess one hundred fifteen pounds of pot. Like the trusting idiot that I was, I actually believed that I was getting sentenced for that amount, 115 lbs. of pot, which carries a 30 to 37 month sentence. And why not? My plea was for 115 lbs. The conspiracy charge and another possession charge were dropped. The U.S. Sentencing guidelines mandated a 30-37 month sentence. What could go wrong? HAH! The Sentencing Guidelines and various court decisions say that even though charges are dropped or dismissed, (mine were), they will still be used to sentence you! This absurdity is called "relevant conduct". In other words, the charges that were dismissed to get you to plead guilty in the first place are still going to be used to sentence you!

Remember, students, there is no standard of proof at the sentence. As the feds rarely get any drugs, the sentence is based on yes, you guessed it, the rat's paid testimony My codefendant's had gone to trial about 6 months before my guilty plea. (Their case is the epitome of absurdity, a must read: U.S. v. Brito 136 F.3d 397 5th Cir.1998). Their case shows how the courts of appeal blow you out of the water in the face of prima facie evidence. (Well worth looking up)

The poor devil that was picked to be the "Boss" got an astounding 41 years! Be sure to add up the pounds listed there to get the other brothers the mandatory 10 year minimum. To get the 10 years mandatory the weights have to surpass 1,000 lbs. Count them for yourself, it was conveniently passed by 6 pounds, mostly on wild guesses and coached testilying. At their trial the star witness testilied that he had went to Mexico 80 times in 74 days, a 600 mile trip, and brought 500 pounds of pot, by small vehicle, through the same Border Patrol checkpoint, a total of 160 times, and by cracky, 80 x 500 = 40,000, and the "leader" was sentenced for those 20 tons! 492 months, because he dared to "take it to trial!" (See Brito).

After you plead guilty, 35 days before your sentencing, they are supposed to give you a copy of your Pre-Sentence Report. This PSR is what the judge uses to sentence you. I never received a copy before my sentencing. Like a sheep to slaughter, I was led to my sentencing hearing. Of course I thought I would be sentenced for what I had pled guilty for/to. Wouldn't you? I had no idea of the evil that awaited me. But the insane judge, my attorney, and the persecutor did. After my 115 lb. plea, the devils hit me; no, slammed me, with the above stated 20 crushing tons, the 40,000 fantasy pounds, that the rat had lied his head off about! The idiot judge said because he had heard the testimony at the Brito trial, (at which I was not even near), the 20 tons were gospel, and without further ado, gave me ten years and ran me out of there.

Oh, you say, you can still appeal that sentence, right? Wrong! The plea trap conveniently said that I "waived" my right to appeal my sentence on any ground! I appealed anyway but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed my appeal on the ground that even though I had pled for 115 lbs. and got hit with 20 extra tons, my waiver of appeal was "voluntary and intelligent!" I call it a "dumb" waiver! In the 5th Circuit if you "knew" you had a right to appeal, that's "knowing"! Go figure. The rat got religion and found Jesus in prison. I got permission from the Bureau of Prisons to correspond with him. I wrote him and begged him to tell the truth of the amounts and trips to Mexico. (This rat did go 4-5 times for a hundred pounds or so, and this was the extent of the conspiracy, split between 10 people). The rat went before a notary and signed a sworn affidavit that he had lied at the Brito trial and had not gone 80 times in 74 days for 500 lbs., but had only gone 4-5 times at 100-200 lbs. per trip.

I sent this affidavit, plus others, to the court in a habeas corpus petition, expecting to maybe get sentenced for the truth, and get justice. When you file a petition you have to send the AUSAs (the persecutors) a copy. When the persecutors saw that their rat had told the truth, they went and threatened him with prison time if he did not withdraw the truthful affidavit at once! No way was he to tell the truth, why, them Mexicans might get some justice, and their evil exposed to world! They took the rat in front of a grand jury and coached him well. The rat then said that he was threatened by "prison gangs working for whoever" to sign the affidavit or "get a pencil in the neck!" The grand jury transcript shows a staged, mock, and well rehearsed performance.

Now I am looking at a new indictment for this rat's evil lies. I feel the persecutors saying, "so you want justice? Come and get it!" My petition has been before the court for over a year now. I have written the judge begging for a hearing and/or justice. No reply. I am leaning toward just withdrawing my petition after what they have done and shut up and do my time. After all, what can a poor Mexican do alone, broke, and against the power of the U.S. of A?

Although I was sentenced for 70 million dollars worth of pot, I only wish I had! Of course, with that 70 mil I would not spring for a lawyer! I was still paying on my $12,000 home, and drove a 1979 Chevy, 70 mil, yeah right. The insanity saddens me, this is, after all, the U.S. government. "With liberty and justice for all", right? What a joke those words have become due to the manipulations of Congress and the Department of "INjustice".

As I begin my 5th year and have 5 to go, there is NO parole in the fed system, (But we DO get 54 days off a year IF we behave in the B.O.P.)

All of this history is verified and documented: believe it, it is the truth. I have little faith the judge will give us justice after what I have seen. Why would he go against his U.S. Attorneys to give a bunch of Mexicans justice? I feel he will try to bury this story as deep as he can. What better place than the federal gulags, ignored by an uncaring populace?. On behalf of all the unfortunates imprisoned for rat's lies, please help us get our stories out to the public. It pains me to see us become a nation of snitches, one that imprisons people for smoking an HERB! WAKE UP!

Sincerely, Angel