Serving Chicago For 18 Years

Craig M. Sandberg Appointed by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to Represent Convicted Alleged Sinaloa Cartel Member

For Immediate Release: March 6, 2019

Contact: Craig M. Sandberg, 833.726.3237, craig@sandberglaw.com

Chicago, ILHector Saul Castro-Aguirre, 39, from Nogales, Mexico, was one of four alleged members of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel found guilty in federal court after a ten-day trial. Castro-Aguirre was found guilty of conducting a continuing a criminal enterprise (Count 2), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 848(a) & (b)(1), conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine (mixture) and 5 kilograms or more of cocaine (mixture) (Count 1), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) & 846, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments (Count 4), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). On January 10, 2019, Castro-Aguirre was sentenced to a term of life on Counts 1 and 2, and 240 months on Count 4, all to be served concurrently.

The federal crime of conducting a "continuing criminal enterprise" ("CCE") (21 U.S.C. § 848) is intended to target large-scale drug traffickers responsible for extensive drug conspiracies. This provision "is sometimes called 'the kingpin statute' because it is designed to apply to ringleaders of large-scale illegal narcotics operations." See United States v. Webster, 639 F.2d 174, 180 (4th Cir. 1981). The CCE covers only major narcotic organizations, which sets it apart from the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("the RICO Act" or "RICO") (18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968) The CCE statute makes it illegal to commit or conspire to commit a series of felony violations of the federal Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 ("Controlled Substances Act" or "CSA") (21 USC § 801, et seq.).

Those convicted of this crime can face up to a mandatory minimum of 20 years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment. Further, subsection 848(b), referred to as the "super kingpin" statute, see United States v. Torres, 677 F. Supp. 2d 668, 669 (S.D.N.Y. 2009), mandates that a defendant convicted under this subsection receive a mandatory sentence of life without parol. These so-called “super kingpins,” or leaders of organizations that involve large amounts of narcotics or considerable profits, must serve a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

"Evidence introduced at trial established that Castro-Aguirre, Rojas-Reyes, and Carrillo-Tremillo were members of the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel. After other members of the Sinaloa Cartel smuggled methamphetamine and cocaine across the Mexican border, Castro-Aguirre coordinated the activities of drug couriers who transported drugs from Tucson, Arizona and Montebello, California to other cities in the United States for distribution. The cities that received controlled substances from Castro-Aguirre’s transportation network included the following:  Indianapolis; Lufkin, Texas; Reading, Pennsylvania; New Brunswick, New Jersey; Queens, New York; and Columbus, Ohio. Rojas-Reyes was the leader of an Indianapolis-based methamphetamine and cocaine distribution cell for the Cartel and controlled the distribution of these substances in Indianapolis. Carrillo-Tremillo served as the leader of a cocaine distribution cell for the cartel based in Reading, Pennsylvania."

"Federal prosecutors believe that these defendants were responsible for distributing approximately 200 pounds of methamphetamine and 20 kilograms of cocaine, with a retail value of over $2.2 million and a wholesale value of over $9 million in Indianapolis. The defendants were responsible for distributing an additional 28 pounds of methamphetamine and 390 kilograms of cocaine, with a retail value of over $12 million and a wholesale value of over $40 million in other areas of the United States. As a result of the investigation, law enforcement was able to seize over 90 pounds of methamphetamine, 12 kilograms of cocaine and $2.5 million in cash."

WHAT: Direct appeal in United States v. Castro-Aguirre, a/k/a Chapo, a/k/a Chapito (Docket No. 19-1074) from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana (Case No. 1:16-cr-00123-7)

WHO: Craig M. Sandberg represents the defendant pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act (“CJA”), Title 18, United States Code, §3006A the Criminal Justice Act (“CJA”), having been appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

WHERE: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois

Categories: Blog

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