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Felon who sold fentanyl, meth, heroin in Riverside County headed to prison


A convicted felon who stored thousands of fentanyl pills, as well as large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin, for sale out of his Cherry Valley home was bound for state prison today to serve a 10-year sentence.   

Julio Cesar Castillo, 52, pleaded guilty in February to three counts of possession of controlled substances for sale and one count of possession of controlled substances while armed. In exchange for his admissions, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office dropped two related charges and several sentence-enhancing allegations filed against him.   

During a hearing at the Banning Justice Center on Monday, Superior Court Judge Francisco Navarro certified terms of the plea deal and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense.

According to sheriff's Sgt. Jacob Cooley, Gang Task Force personnel initiated an investigation that resulted in search warrants being obtained and executed in February 2023 at Castillo's residence on Lambert Road, along with properties in Beaumont and Calimesa.

"Through the warrants, (deputies) seized approximately 28 pounds of methamphetamine, 5.5 pounds of heroin, approximately 2,000 ... M30 fentanly pills, 2.5 pounds of fentanyl powder, 400 glass smoking pipes commonly used for smoking meth and one unserialized 9mm `ghost gun,''' Cooley said.

Castillo was taken into custody without incident.   

Court records show the defendant had prior convictions for being a felon with a gun, unlawful intercourse with a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Fentanyl is manufactured in overseas labs, principally in China, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which says the synthetic opioid is smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border by cartels.

The drug is 80-100 times more potent than morphine and can be mixed into any number of street narcotics and prescription drugs, without a user knowing what he or she is consuming. Ingestion of only two milligrams can be fatal.

Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans between 18 and 45 years old.

Article Topic Follows: Fentanyl Crisis

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