DEA Agent Sentenced to 22 Months at La Tuna

Alicia Ramirez

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Vietnam veteran and former DEA Agent Celerino Castillo III has been sentenced to report to La Tuna Federal Prison on July 20 to serve his 22 month jail sentence that he received late last year.

His court appearance on July 10 was meant to appeal to the judge to allow him to remain out on bond until the 5th Circuit for appeals heard his case, but the judge denied his request.

"The judge listened to both sides but based on what he new about how the 5th Circuit would react he came to the conclusion that the 5th Circuit would probably not approve their appeal," said friend Danny Romero who was in the court room with Castillo.

Castillo's case began when he was picked up at a gun show in San Antonio in March of last year for dealing in firearms without a license. He was charged with conspiracy to sell guns without a license and selling guns without a license.

"I did sell guns without a license because half of the gun shows do, but they wanted to actually come after me because of my history of fighting the government," said Castillo.

Selling guns without a license at a gun show in Texas is not illegal. There are no federal laws prohibiting the sale or purchase and in Texas there are only a few restrictions. For example, the prohibition of selling to or buying from a felon and the prohibition of selling to someone for the purpose of trafficking firearms across the border or to give to a prohibited person.

Castillo went to court and his first attorney Robert De La Garza told him to plead guilty to dealing guns without a government issued license. De La Garza never mentioned to Castillo or the court that he was being investigated for malpractice nor did he mention that his son was facing similar charges.

In the early '90s, Castillo was a whistle blower and told of the government sponsored drug trafficking that he saw while in El Salvador.

"I initiated the Iran/Contra investigation back in the '80s where we implicated our government in the drug trafficking," said Castillo. "There were some bipartisan investigations that confirmed my allegations."

Castillo will serve his time at La Tuna while preparing for his 5th Circuit appeal.

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