Mexican Drug Kingpin Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison for Trafficking Black Tar Heroin
CHARLOTTE, NC—The head of a Mexican drug trafficking organization (DTO) responsible for producing and distributing vast quantities of heroin into the United States was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr., announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Carlos Ramon Castro-Rocha, a/k/a “Cuate,” 41, of Sinaloa, Mexico, was handed down a 135-month sentence, followed by a five-year term of supervised release.
Daniel R. Salter, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office and Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), join Acting U.S. Attorney Rose in making today’s announcement.
According to court documents and court proceedings, between 2005 and 2008, Castro-Rocha, a Mexican drug kingpin, ran an extensive drug trafficking network and oversaw all aspects of his drug operation, from production in Mexico, to smuggling the narcotics across the border, to distribution in cities throughout the U.S. In September 2007, law enforcement seized more than two and a half kilograms (approximately six pounds) of black tar heroin that had been trafficked to Charlotte through Castro-Rocha’s drug distribution network, as well as over $110,000 in cash and a handgun. Court records indicate that in August 2008, law enforcement made two additional seizures of approximately one kilogram of black tar heroin each. According to court records, between 2005 and 2008, Castro-Rocha’s network trafficked up to 10 kilograms of black tar heroin in the Charlotte area alone, with an approximate street value of $1.2 million.
The U.S. Department of Justice designated Castro-Rocha as a Consolidated Priority Organization Target, or “CPOT,” a designation reserved for the highest command and control level drug traffickers, who run organizations that smuggle large quantities of narcotics into the United States. There are only 42 individuals in the world designated as a CPOT.
Castro-Rocha was charged by a criminal complaint and later formally indicted in the Western District of North Carolina in June 2009. The indictment was unsealed after Mexican authorities arrested Castro-Rocha in Mexico, on May 30, 2010, pursuant to extradition proceedings initiated by the Justice Department. Castro-Rocha filed several unsuccessful appeals in the Mexican judicial system, and was eventually extradited to the United States in October 2012.
In April 2014, Castro-Rocha pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to import heroin and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin. In addition to prosecution of the organization’s leader, this investigation has resulted in the prosecution of 11 defendants associated with Castro-Rocha’s DTO. Following today’s sentencing in the Western District of North Carolina, Castro-Rocha will be transferred to Arizona to face federal drug trafficking and related charges pending against him in that district.
Castro-Rocha’s prosecution stems from “Operation Dirty Girl II,” which is the local portion of a national anti-drug initiative, “Project Deliverance,” aimed at stemming the flow of illegal narcotics into the U.S. Led by the DEA and other members of the Western District’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), Dirty Girl II focused on disrupting and dismantling the infrastructure of Castro-Rocha’s drug trafficking network, which was responsible for producing and smuggling in the U.S. vast quantities of heroin, including a highly dangerous form, black tar heroin. “Dirty Girl” is the street name for black tar heroin.
In making today’s announcement Acting U.S. Attorney Rose commended the DEA and CMPD for handling the investigation. She also thanked the FBI, the Gastonia Police Department and the Union County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance. Assistant United States Attorney Steven R. Kaufman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte coordinated in the investigation and prosecuted the case.