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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 24, 2021

High-Ranking Nuestra Familia Gang Member Sentenced to 17.5 Years in Prison for Leading a Drug Trafficking Ring from Inside Pleasant Valley State Prison

FRESNO, Calif. — Salvador Castro Jr., 51, of Fresno, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd to 17 years and six months in prison for conspiring to sell over 500 grams of methamphetamine, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

Castro was one of more than 50 individuals charged in June 2019 as part of Operation Red Reaper, a federal, state, and local law enforcement operation targeted at dismantling the criminal activities of the Nuestra Familia Prison Gang in the counties of Kings and Tulare. At the conclusion of the operation, federal charges were brought against 23 of those defendants, with the remaining being charged by the local District Attorney’s Office.

According to court documents, Castro is a high-ranking Nuestra Familia prison gang member, who was serving a 26-year-to-life sentence for a third-strike offense. In 2019, from inside his cell in Pleasant Valley State Prison, Castro used contraband cellphones to organize and lead a group of Norteno street gang members in Kings and Tulare Counties. Castro recruited gang members, encouraged them to commit robberies, and coordinated the transportation, delivery, and resale of pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty on Jan. 12, 2021. Judge Drozd ordered that his federal sentence be served consecutive to the state sentence he had been serving when he committed the offense.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Kings County Gang Task Force, the Special Operations Unit of the California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the Kings County District Attorney's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin J. Gilio, Katherine E. Schuh, and Kimberly A. Sanchez are prosecuting the case.

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.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated May 25, 2021