Mexican Citizen Pleads Guilty to Role in Drug Trafficking Organization
Victor Castaneda, 39, a citizen of Mexico, who most recently resided in Madison, Illinois, entered a plea of guilty in federal court on February 26, 2013, to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine (Count 1); Entry Into the United States Without Inspection (Count 4); and four counts of Unlawful Distribution of Cocaine (Counts 6, 7, 8, and 9), the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. No counts were dismissed against Castaneda in return for his plea. Castaneda had been charged on August 22, 2012, in an indictment charging ten individuals with being members of a large drug trafficking organization. Castaneda is currently scheduled to be sentenced on June 14, 2013. At that time he will face penalties of 5 to 40 years in prison, a fine of up to $5 million, at least 4 years of supervised release, and a $100 Special Assessment for Count 1. For Count 4, Castaneda faces penalties of not more than 6 months in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and a $10 Special Assessment. For Counts 6 through 9, Castaneda faces penalties of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million, at least 3 years of supervised release, and a $100 Special Assessment on each count.
Castaneda admitted the Forfeiture Allegation in the Indictment and agreed to forfeit $30,240.00 to the United States. In addition, Castaneda agreed to the entry of a Judicial Order of Removal, which will require that he be deported from the United States following any term of imprisonment.
Of the nine individuals named in the indictment with Castaneda, three others have entered pleas of guilty and are awaiting sentencing; four others have been arrested and are awaiting trial; two are fugitives. Those not yet convicted are presumed innocent because an indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge and is entitled to a fair trial at which the Government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Evidence in support of the indictment was obtained in an investigation which was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF initiative is designed to bring federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and resources together to identify, target and dismantle large national and international drug trafficking organizations. Participating agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), U.S. Marshal Service, the Granite City Police Department, Fairview Heights Police Department, the Collinsville Police Department, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the St. Louis County (Missouri) Police Department, the St. Charles County (Missouri) Sheriff’s Department, and the Nebraska State Patrol. This case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Randy G. Massey for prosecution.