CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 21-year-old Hidalgo County man has been sent to federal prison for possessing with the intent to distribute 4.5 kilograms of cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Matthew Ethan Joseph Castillo pleaded guilty Feb. 10.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ordered Castillo to serve 36 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence that Castillo transported cocaine numerous times in the past, having delivered narcotics to Houston and Dallas as well as Atlanta, Georgia, and New York City. In handing down the sentence, the court noted the significant quantity of cocaine that Castillo was smuggling.
At the time of his plea, Castillo admitted he knowingly attempted to smuggle the narcotics past a U.S. Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint.
On Sept. 29, 2021, Castillo was traveling on a Tornado commercial passenger bus that entered the primary inspection area of the checkpoint near Falfurrias. There, a service canine alerted to a specific piece of luggage in the lower compartment of the bus. Authorities identified Castillo as the owner.
They searched the item and found two wooden tortilla presses, each containing two bundles of cocaine. They had been individually wrapped in carbon paper and coffee and sealed in plastic.
The drugs had an estimated street value of more than $300,000.
Castillo has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of BP. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marck prosecuted the case.