GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Grand Haven Tribune) - Alex Alberto Castro was sentenced in federal court in Grand Rapids to 42 years in prison for conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine, U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced Thursday.
Castro was the lead defendant of a 20-defendant drug conspiracy that began in 2013 and continued until all of them were arrested in 2017. A federal jury convicted Castro in October 2018.
Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker handed down the sentence.
Birge said that the evidence presented at the trial proved Castro to be the lead California-based drug distributor, responsible for sending heroin and cocaine to Grand Rapids, Indianapolis and Kansas through the use of trap-cars, semi-trucks with custom-made concealed compartments, and car trailers. Castro employed multiple drivers and maintained his drug distribution deliveries even while in prison for a federal supervised release violation in 2016.
The conviction was the result of a multi-agency federal and state investigation into the conspiracy. The investigation began in 2016 and continued through 2017. It involved the wiretap of seven separate telephones used by multiple co-conspirators.
In total, 24 defendants were convicted as a result of the charges brought in the investigation. During the arrests of the defendants and execution of associated searches, federal and state investigators seized more than 30 kilograms of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl; multiple pounds of marijuana; two kilogram presses; more than $1.3 million in drug proceeds; a bullet-proof vest;, three handguns; and an assault rifle with an extended magazine.
“Heroin, fentanyl and cocaine — trafficked into our state from other regions — have been a scourge to our community,” Birge said. “In Kent County alone, the number of overdose deaths from controlled substances increased by over 50 percent from 2016 to 2017 and we lost 156 of our neighbors to overdoses in 2017.”
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.