FRESNO, Calif. — High-ranking Nuestra Familia prison gang member Salvador Castro Jr., 50, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Castro used a contraband cellphone from inside Pleasant Valley State Prison in Fresno County to arrange for the formation of a new street gang regiment in Kings and Tulare Counties. According to the plea agreement, Castro was recorded on a wiretap conspiring with associates outside of prison to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine. Between May 5, 2019, and May 15, 2019, Castro coordinated the transportation of approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine from the Sacramento area to a residence in Visalia. Castro arranged for co-conspirators outside of prison to protect the narcotics during transit, and when the drugs arrived in Visalia, Castro and his co-conspirators discussed plans to distribute the methamphetamine to buyers in the Central Valley.
The case is the result of an investigation by the Kings County Gang Task Force; the Special Operations Unit – a team of agents from the California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the FBI; the Kings County District Attorney’s Office; and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Gilio, Kate Schuh, and Kimberly Sanchez are prosecuting the case.
Castro faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime. To learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods, go to www.justice.gov/psn.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.