San Juan County Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Methamphetamine Trafficking Charge
Defendant Charged as a Result of OCDETF Operation, Led by HSI and HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force, Targeted Methamphetamine Traffickers in Northwestern New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Kirk Castor, 36, of Kirtland, N.M., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to a methamphetamine trafficking charge.
Castor was one of eight San Juan County residents charged with federal narcotics trafficking offenses as the result of a multi-agency investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force into methamphetamine trafficking on the Navajo Indian Reservation in northwestern New Mexico. The investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, which combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.
The investigation leading to the federal charges was initiated in response to an increase in methamphetamine trafficking on the Navajo Indian Reservation in the Shiprock area. The investigation identified eight defendants, who are charged in five indictments, through a series of methamphetamine purchases by undercover law enforcement officers. Law enforcement authorities seized more than two and a half pounds of methamphetamine, ten firearms, approximately $1,600 in cash and a vehicle during an arrest operation on May 11, 2016.
Castor was arrested on an indictment charging him with distributing methamphetamine on April 1, 2015 and April 3, 2015, in San Juan County, N.M. During today’s proceedings, Castor pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that on April 1, 2015, he sold .7 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover officer, and on April 3, 2015, he sold 42 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover officer.
At sentencing, Castor faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. Castor remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
Five of the other seven defendants have entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentencing hearings. The remaining two defendants have entered not guilty pleas and are awaiting trial. Charges in indictments and complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless convicted in a court of law.
These cases were investigated by HSI’s Albuquerque office and the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force with assistance from the Farmington office of the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and BIA’s Division of Drug Enforcement, Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, New Mexico State Police, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Farmington Police Department, and New Mexico National Guard. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine Y. Ramirez is prosecuting the cases.
The HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force is comprised of officers and investigators from the Farmington Police Department, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Bloomfield Police Department, Aztec Police Department and HSI Albuquerque, and is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.