Juan Evangelista Castro Sentenced to 27 Years

A judge sentenced a convicted methamphetamine dealer to 27
years in prison Tuesday, a punishment that federal prosecutors
hope deters others from selling drugs in the Shenandoah Valley.

“The system just hopes people reach [the conclusion] on their own
that it’s just not worth it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Rusty Fitzgerald
said after the sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in

Judge Samuel G. Wilson sentenced Juan Evangelista Castro, 28, a
Salvadoran national living in Harrisonburg, to the low end of what
federal sentencing guidelines suggested for his conviction and other
aspects of his case. Sentencing guidelines advise judges by
considering how other judges have sentenced defendants for similar
crimes. They also take into account criminal history, cooperation
with law enforcement and other factors, according to court testimony.

After serving his sentence, Castro, whose attorney says he was
permitted to work in the United States when he was arrested in June
2006, will face a deportation hearing.

During simultaneous raids on June 12, 2006, on two area homes the
RUSH Drug Task Force seized more than 7 pounds of meth, two
firearms and almost $10,000 in cash, authorities say. Police seized
most of the evidence — including 6 pounds of meth from Castro’s
apartment on South Avenue in Harrisonburg.

Police arrested Castro and two others the day of the task force
operation and indicted a fourth defendant months later. Castro’s
three co-defendants pleaded guilty to drug dealing charges and
received sentences of less than five years.

Anita Prado Cardoso, of Harrisonburg, who was 24 in December,
and Santos Alejandro Gomez, aka Rolando Jose Rosado Principe, 26, were sentenced to 57 months in federal prison.

On Tuesday, Wilson sentenced co-defendant Pedro Leon Alonso,
27, to two years and 11 months, according to his attorney, Greg
Bowman of Winchester.

Rosado Principe and Alonso resided in the Valley View Trailer Park
in Rockingham County when arrested in June 2006. In March, a jury
convicted Castro of conspiracy to deal 500 grams or more of meth
and possession with intent to distribute the same quantity.

During trial, Alonso testified that he and Castro twice drove to North
Carolina and brought back a pound of meth. The jury acquitted
Castro on a firearms charge.

During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, defense attorney Aaron Cook
admitted Castro sold drugs, but said he’s also a hard worker and a
father of two young children.

Prior to the drug conviction, he had misdemeanor convictions for
DUI and domestic assault and battery on his record.

Cook said the roughly 30 years suggested by federal guidelines was
too steep and disproportionate with the punishments given Castro’s
co-defendants. He also said it punished Castro for exercising his
right to a trial. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, said 30 years is
appropriate because Castro led the drug ring, was arrested with a
firearm and didn’t cooperate with police.

“His conduct has been exactly the conduct that leads one to a 30-
year-plus sentence,” Fitzgerald said. Wilson said the sentence is
appropriate because Castro didn’t admit responsibility for
possessing a large amount of meth.

Wilson also said he believes Castro lied during his trial. “All those
things come together,” Wilson said. “It’s not a perfect storm, but it’s a big one.”

Source: David Reynolds DNR online

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