Member of interstate drug ring sentenced to 87 months

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

FAYETTEVILLE --In return for his cooperation with federal investigators into an interstate drug ring operating in Northwest Arkansas, Silas Leonardo Noriega, also known as Gayo, 30, of Eureka Springs was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison with five years supervised release and a $15,000 fine during federal court proceedings Thursday.

The supervised released portion of his sentence, however, is not likely to take place as he is to be deported upon release.

Noriega is part of an organized crime ring that distributed methamphetamine and primarily operated in Washington, Madison and Carroll counties, which was discovered in August 2006 via a federal wire tap investigation.

Also sentenced Thursday in federal court was Karla Castillo, daughter of Noriega's co-defendants Baudillo and Magda Castillo, Guatelmalan nationals residing near Hindsville.

Karla Castillo was apparently caught up in the federal investigation, though she does not appear to have been involved in the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

According to Attorney Chris Plumlee, Karla Castillo apparently "flipped out" when she encountered the undercover operative, blocking and damaging the operative's vehicle before assaulting the person physically and verbally.

Plumlee stated that had she not done that, she would likely have never been charged. She was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.

Charges against her mother, Magda Castillo, were dismissed, as there was not enough evidence to link her to the operation, according to Plumlee, and she has been deported.

The case against seven Northwest Arkansas defendants ties directly to that in?Dallas,?Texas, of Claudio Mendoza, of Alpena, who was in a conspiracy with Baudillo Castillo, 42, of Hindsville, husband of Magda Castillo, and Felipe Soto Cervantes, of Dallas, to distribute methamphetamine.

Soto is currently in prison, convicted in that case as well as on a kidnapping charge arising from a shootout in?Texas, according to Plumley.

Co-conspirator Abner Reyes, of Green Forest, was sent by Baudillo?Castillo to Texas, and was picked up with 14 pounds of methamphetamine in his vehicle. Reyes was sentenced earlier to 63 months in federal prison, with deportation following.

Noriega's sentence was reduced from a possible 131 months due to his cooperation with federal authorities, including willingness to testify.

Others sentenced earlier in the case were:

* Donis Castillo, of Green Forest, brother of Baudillo Castillo -- conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; 87 months in prison with deportation upon release.

* Santos Emilio Serrano, 38, of Siloam Springs -- conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; 72 months in prison with a $7,500 fine, four years of possible probation with deportation upon release.

* Abner Reyes, of Green Forest -- two counts of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; 60 months in prison, $5,000 fine, $100 special assessment, and deportation upon release.

The arrests were part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement which started in?April 2006..

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