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Press Release

Ojo Encino, N.M., Man Pleads Guilty to Using a Firearm During an Assault

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Permanuel Castillo, 22, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Ojo Encino, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to using a firearm during a crime of violence, an assault with a dangerous weapon which resulted in serious bodily injury, under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Castillo pled guilty to a charge arising out of the Sept. 27, 2012 shooting of his girlfriend.  According to court filings, on that day, New Mexico State Police officers responded to a call regarding a shooting at Castillo’s Ojo Encino residence, which is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation.  During questioning, Castillo initially claimed that his girlfriend had been the victim of a drive-by shooting.  After further questioning, Castillo admitted shooting the victim multiple times in the chest but claimed that it was an accident.  Castillo was arrested on tribal charges by officers of the Navajo Division of Public Safety and held in tribal custody.

Castillo was arrested on federal assault charges on Oct. 24, 2012, and has been in federal custody since that time.  Castillo subsequently was charged in a three-count indictment with (1) assault with a dangerous weapon, (2) assault resulting in serious bodily injury, and (3) use of a firearm during a crime of violence. 

During this morning’s proceedings, Castillo pled guilty to Count 3 of the indictment, charging him with using a firearm during a crime of violence, and admitted assaulting the victim by shooting her with a rifle.  As a result of the assault, the victim sustained three gunshot wounds to the chest.

Castillo remains in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  At sentencing, Castillo faces a ten year prison sentence to be followed by not more than three years of supervised release.  Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment will be dismissed after Castillo is sentenced.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI, the Crownpoint office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and the New Mexico State Police and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Novaline D. Wilson. 

The case was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women, and seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.

Updated January 26, 2015