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Dec. 3, 2009

BROWNSVILLE RESIDENT SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 20 YEARS FOR ROLE IN DRUG TRAFFICKING RING

(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) - Armando Castillo-Bautista, 33, of Brownsville, has been sentenced to 292 months - more than 24 years - imprisonment for his role in a drug trafficking ring, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. At a hearing this afternoon, U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle found Castillo-Bautista responsible for having organized drug trafficking shipments from Mexico, through Brownsville, to Atlanta, Ga., and other areas from 2004 through 2008. Castillo-Bautista’s efforts included recruiting and paying drug smugglers, as well as selecting and providing money for purchasing vehicles to be used in smuggling more than 100 kilograms of cocaine during that four-year-period. After he completes his sentence, Castillo-Bautista will serve a five-year-term of supervised release which will include the conditions that he not enter the country illegally or commit any other offenses.
           
Castillo-Bautista was identified as the recruiter of two men caught in May 2004 in possession of a shipment of 48.5 kilograms of cocaine and of two women involved in a January 2008 shipment of 33.15 kilograms of cocaine. After a June 2008 shipment of nine kilograms of cocaine was intercepted, Castillo-Bautista was again identified yet again as the recruiter of the driver and having provided the vehicle. Castillo-Bautista was arrested and charged thereafter. At the time of his arrest, Castillo-Bautista claimed to be only a lookout, despite agents finding a copy of the driver’s license of a driver who had been caught attempting to smuggle the nine kilograms of cocaine shortly before. That same driver admitted to having successfully completed a delivery for Castillo-Bautista involving the delivery of more than 19 kilograms of cocaine. Agents also found additional quantities of narcotics in Castillo-Bautista’s home, which Castillo-Bautista claimed belonged to an individual identified as a high ranking member of the Gulf Cartel. 

Castillo-Bautista pleaded guilty in January 2009 to possessing with intent to distribute the nine kilograms of cocaine seized in June 2008. Today, Judge Tagle held Castillo Bautista responsible for his involvement with the distribution of more than 100 kilograms of cocaine. The sentence ultimately imposed by Judge Tagle includes her consideration of Castillo-Bautista’s role as a recruiter of drivers as well as organizer of the smuggling efforts. Judge Tagle also considered that the minor children - often the children of the smugglers -  were used to accompany the smugglers during some of the smuggling efforts as a means concealing the true purpose of the trip.

This case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Angel Castro and Joseph T. Leonard.

 

 

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