Dominican man charged in opioid trafficking argues release from prison

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

By Stella Lorence
BU News Service

Judge Jennifer Boal is expected to issue an opinion on whether a twice-deported Dominican man arrested with 2000 oxycodone pills on his person will be released from custody after a hearing Monday at U.S. District Court.

Jesus Castillo, 46, was one of 41 people charged in August for involvement in a network “pill mill” clinics and pharmacies in Texas and Massachusetts, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

Castillo was arrested in June 2018 following a wiretap investigation that tied him to Michael Spinola, 43, of Boston and Miami, who was the alleged leader of a network of oxycodone, hydrocodone and carisoprodol pill distribution, government representative Theodore Heinrich said Monday in court.

Massachusetts State Police officers were tailing Castillo and Spinola in Spinola’s car while simultaneously intercepting communications between Castillo and Curly Kelly, 40, of Houston.

“Castillo accused Spinola of setting him up,” Heinrich said.

Police searched the back of the car and found 2000 oxycodone pills split between two packages. Each package was “wrapped in tinfoil and disguised to look like a burrito,” Heinrich said, and each pill contained 65 grams of pure oxycodone.

Castillo, who came to the U.S. when he was eight, had legal resident status until 2010. He was deported twice, once in 2013 and again in 2016, after he was convicted of other drug-related crimes in New Hampshire and Florida, Heinrich said.

Heinrich argued Castillo is a “threat to the community” and a flight risk, citing his repeated return to drug trafficking and his current lack of employment.

Castillo’s representative, Joshua Hayne, proposed Castillo be released to his niece’s house in Lawrence with an electronic GPS monitor bracelet and an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

“It’s not that he wants to go to the Dominican Republic,” Hayne said. “He very much wants to stay in the United States.”

Hayne argued Castillo’s deep ties to Lawrence, which include his childhood home, his extended family’s presence and the home of his nine-year-old daughter.

“The evidence suggests he doesn’t want to go back [to the Dominican Republic], but that doesn’t mean he wants to spend the next three to four years in federal prison,” Heinrich said.

Spinola and Kelly, who Hayne referred to as the “more culpable defendants,” have been released from detention.

“Unlike the other defendants, [Castillo] was the only one arrested with drugs on his person,” Heinrich said. “I think there’s a danger to the community.”

Castillo has an involuntary immigration detainer, Hayne said, meaning U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents know he is in custody and he is aware he can be deported.

“The state has an interest in prosecuting him,” Hayne said. “The criminal case should take precedent.”

Boal took the arguments under advisory but it remained unclear Tuesday morning when her written opinion will be released.

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