United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Ballard Resident Who Repeatedly Sold Marijuana To Middle And High School Students Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison
Repeated Sales to Minors and Eleven Firearms used to Protect Drug Trade
A resident of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 30 months in prison and two years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute marijuana, distribution of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. ALEJANDRO ANTONIO CASTILLO, 51, came to the attention of law enforcement in March 2013 after a middle school parent reported students were purchasing marijuana from CASTILLO’s home a block north of Ballard High School. Surveillance of the home and purchases by undercover officers revealed that CASTILLO and his associates were repeatedly selling marijuana to minors including high school and middle school students from area schools. At sentencing U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said he had reviewed photos of “the parade of kids coming up to the back door and buying drugs…. It is not acceptable to sell marijuana to school kids…. It is not acceptable to have guns at home to protect your drug trade.”
“As Washington moves forward with regulated marijuana, it is critical that we enforce the prohibition on sales to children and on those who use guns to protect their illegal activity,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “This defendant was selling to minors as young as 13 and had previously demonstrated his willingness to use guns to protect his drug business. The mix of drugs and guns is dangerous for the whole community, including kids who could show up at the door during a drug related robbery.”
According to records in the case, on various dates in April 2013, Seattle Police detectives observed teens from Whitman Middle School and Ballard High School approach the home where CASTILLO lives with his family members and associates. The teens would go to the back door of the home, be there for a few minutes and leave. Some were observed to be holding plastic bags of what appeared to be marijuana as they left. On April 5, 2013, detectives observed 18 teens between the age of 14 and 18 approach the house in a three hour period beginning just before noon. Most of the teens appeared to come directly from Ballard High School.
On four different occasions, undercover officers posing as juveniles purchased both marijuana and brownies laden with marijuana from CASTILLO or his associates. On April 24, 2013, Seattle Police served a search warrant at the home and seized approximately 1,200 grams of suspected marijuana which included approximately 99 marijuana cigarettes, nine trays of suspected marijuana brownies, four shotguns, one rifle, six handguns, and $4,755 in U.S. Currency. According to police reports, the home had previously been targeted in a home invasion robbery. Two men had fired a shotgun into the house, CASTILLO fired back with one of his firearms, but the robbers fled and no one was hit by gunfire.
Judge Robart said he questioned CASTILLO’s claims that he only sold drugs because he was “behind on his bills,” noting that more than $4,700 in cash was seized at the house. “It is necessary that we get out the message: regardless of legalization, you do not sell drugs to minors,” Judge Robart said.
CASTILLO was charged federally in September 2013, and pleaded guilty in December 2013.
The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hobbs. Mr. Hobbs is a Senior Deputy King County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute gun and drug cases in federal court.