Leader of Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization with Ties to Mexican Cartel Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant directed fentanyl distribution in Massachusetts on behalf of Mexico-based suppliers
BOSTON – A coordinator for a large-scale international fentanyl trafficking and money laundering conspiracy, operating on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston.
Fermin Castillo, 43, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge William G. Young to 25 years in prison and five years of supervised release. In May 2023, Castillo was convicted along with co-defendant Andre Heraux Martinez of conspiracy to distribute over 400 grams of fentanyl and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 11, 2023.
“The flow of deadly fentanyl from Mexico to Massachusetts is directly tied to the devastation this drug has had on our communities. Castillo was close to the apex of a large-scale drug distribution network that was tied to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico. This organization pumped cheap, deadly fentanyl onto the streets of dozens of Massachusetts cities and towns. This sentence of 25 years reflects the gravity of his drug dealing and money laundering,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy.
“DEA is committed to investigating and dismantling Drug Trafficking Organizations and individuals like Mr. Castillo who are responsible for distributing lethal drugs like fentanyl to the citizens of Massachusetts,” said Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division. “This substantial sentence not only holds Mr. Castillo accountable for his crimes but serves as a warning to those traffickers who are fueling the opioid epidemic with deadly drugs in order to profit and destroy people’s lives. DEA’s top priority is combatting the opioid epidemic by working with our local, county, state and federal partners to bring to justice anyone who distributes this poison.”
“This investigation, initiated by Massachusetts State Troopers assigned to the DEA Boston Strike Force made a significant impact on the safety of our communities in the Commonwealth. The investigation interdicted dangerous drugs from being delivered and distributed to the streets of Massachusetts. The dismantling of the DTO, resulted in the conviction of dangerous, predatory drug dealers who prey on, for profit, persons struggling with addiction. I want to recognize the tireless work and also acknowledge the challenges considering this investigation began during the COVID pandemic. This joint effort is an outstanding example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement partners work together cooperatively,” said John E. Mawn Jr., Interim Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police.
In July 2020, an investigation began into a drug trafficking and money laundering organization distributing large quantities of fentanyl and laundering drug proceeds. Intercepted communications identified Castillo as the leader of the organization who coordinated fentanyl shipments into Massachusetts on behalf of a Mexico-based drug trafficking organization and coordinated the laundering of hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds.
Although Castillo resided in Mexico, he was in constant contact with co-conspirators in Massachusetts via encrypted messaging about fentanyl shipments to Massachusetts. Additionally, on a number of occasions, Castillo personally came to Massachusetts to oversee the delivery of fentanyl shipments and to launder drug proceeds before returning to Mexico.
In total, Castillo organized the drop-off of $966,030 in fentanyl proceeds for the purposes of money laundering. Additionally, evidence presented at trial established that Castillo was accountable for conspiring to distribute nearly 20 kilograms of fentanyl.
Acting U.S. Attorney Levy, DEA SAC Boyle and MSP Interim Colonel Mawn made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leah B. Foley and Stephen W. Hassink of the Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit prosecuted the case.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations. 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 https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
Updated November 29, 2023