United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
2010, a jury convicted defendant Modesto Castillo of
conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with intent
to distribute cocaine. The court sentenced him to 188 months
in custody, which was later reduced to 151 months in custody
pursuant to a retroactive amendment to the United States
Sentencing Guidelines. Castillo has moved to vacate his
conviction and sentence under 28 U.S.C. §2255, and for
discovery. He alleges that his sentence, which was based in
part on a finding by the court that he was responsible for
possessing or distributing approximately 140 kilograms of
cocaine, violated his Sixth Amendment rights under United
States Supreme Court in Alleyne v. United States,
570 U.S. 99, 116 (2013). Castillo subsequently moved to amend
his Petition with a claim that the laboratory results relied
on to identify the substance seized from his coconspirator as
cocaine were potentially falsified by Annie Dookhan, a former
chemist at the Massachusetts Department of Health Hinton
decision in Alleyne was decided after Castillo's
conviction and sentence became final and does not apply
retroactively. See Butterworth v. United States, 775
F.3d 459, 468 (1st Cir. 2015), cert, denied, 135
S.Ct. 1517 (2015). In addition, Castillo does not provide any
reason to believe that Annie Dookhan tested the samples of
cocaine recovered from his coconspirator, or that it is
reasonably likely he would have been acquitted if her
misconduct had been disclosed to him before trial. The
evidence at trial indicates that the drugs were analyzed at
the Drug Enforcement Administration's Northeast
Laboratory, not the Hinton State Laboratory. Moreover, there
was other, overwhelming evidence that the substance seized on
April 5, 2008 from his coconspirator, Raphael Mercedes, was
cocaine. Therefore, Castillo's motions for discovery and
to vacate his sentence are unmeritorious and are being
April 5, 2008, the Massachusetts State Police
("MSP") seized 84 kilograms of what they suspected
to be cocaine from a pickup truck in Lynn, Massachusetts. The
police arrested six individuals in connection with the
seizure, including Castillo. On May 15, 2008, Castillo was
charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with
intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine.
to trial, the government filed an exhibit list identifying
Exhibit 12 as a "Representative Sample of 10 kilograms
of cocaine seized from 84 kilograms of cocaine seized on
04/05/08." Docket No. 214-1 at 7. Castillo and the
That the substance that has been marked for identification as
Government's Exhibit 12, was analyzed by the Drug
Enforcement Administration's Northeast Laboratory and
found to contain cocaine. The total weight of the substance
seized that was found to be cocaine was 84.08 kilograms.
Following the chemical analysis, Government's Exhibit G
was returned to the Drug Enforcement Administration in
Boston, Massachusetts, for use at trial.
No. 210 at 1.
trial began on June 16, 2010. At trial, MSP Sergeant Thomas
Quinn testified that the drugs seized on April 5, 2008,
"were taken...from Lynn, Massachusetts to Framingham,
where the state police narcotics unit is" and
subsequently "transferred from state police custody to
DEA custody." June 17, 2010 Tr. at 101-02. Exhibit 12
was then admitted and identified by Sergeant Quinn.
Id. at 105-06. The stipulation regarding that
exhibit was read into evidence. Id. at 110-11. On
June 21, 2010, the jury found Castillo guilty of conspiracy
to distribute and possession with intent to distribute five
or more kilograms of cocaine. See Docket No. 219.
was sentenced on September 21, 2010. The court found that
Castillo was responsible for a total of 139.08 kilograms of
cocaine, including the 84 kilograms seized on April 5, 2008,
30 kilograms given to the owner of the auto body shop where
the cocaine was delivered, and 25 kilograms from a prior
uncharged transaction. See PSR at ¶ 21; Sept.
21, 2010 Tr. at 8. The court calculated Castillo's
advisory guideline range using this figure. Id. at
11-12. It sentenced him to 188 months in prison, which was at
the time the low end of the guideline range. Id. at
11, 21-22. Castillo's conviction was affirmed on appeal.
See No. 10-2264 (1st Cir. Oct. 26, 2012)(Docket No.
257). Castillo did not file a petition for certiorari. His
conviction became final on January 24, 2013. The court later
reduced Castillo's sentence to 151 months in custody
pursuant to U.S.S.G. Supp. to App. C, Amendment 782, which
lowered the guidelines for his offense and applied
retroactively under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(2) and U.S.S.G.
§1B1.10(d). See Nov. 22, 2016 Memorandum and
Order (Docket No. 322).
series of investigations from 2011 through at least 2012, it
was discovered that Annie Dookhan, a chemist at the
Massachusetts Department of Health Hinton State Laboratory in
Jamaica Plain, engaged in repeated misconduct in connection
with drug samples she tested from 2003 to 2012. As recently,
succinctly summarized by Judge George O'Toole,
Dookhan's offenses are now well-known. She worked as
chemist at the Hinton Lab from 2003 through 2012. In 2011,
Dookhan was cited for a breach of laboratory protocol. The
[Department of Health] launched an investigation which
exposed an alarming pattern of lapses and irregularities at
the Hinton Lab. Dookhan was ultimately indicted and pled
guilty to twenty-seven criminal charges, including perjury
and evidence tampering, admitting among other things that she
rigged test results by contaminating negative samples with
known drugs from completed tests and dry-labbing (i.e.,
falsely certifying she had tested drug samples when she had
only given them a visual examination).
United States v. Fortes, 2016 WL 8692835, at *2 (D.
Mass. Sept. 30, 2016). The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial
Court also found that Dookhan falsified the substance of
reports intended to verify, before each test, the proper
functioning of a sophisticated machine used to confirm the
analyses of other ...