Leader of large drug ring sent heroin, cocaine to Michigan in hidden compartments, even from prison

Alex Castro sentenced to 42 years in prison

Police recovered these items while breaking up a drug trafficking ring. (WDIV)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The leader of a massive drug ring was sentenced for sending cocaine and heroin to Michigan and several other states, U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said.

Alex Alberto Castro was sentenced to 42 years in prison for conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine. Officials said he was the leader of a drug conspiracy that began in 2013 and continued until all 20 people involved had been arrested in 2017.

Officials said Castro was leading a California-based drug distributor responsible for sending heroin and cocaine to Grand Rapids, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Kansas.

The operation used trap cars and semi trucks with custom, concealed compartments and car trailers, according to authorities.

Castro employed drivers and maintained his drug distribution deliveries even while he was in prison for a federal supervised release violation in 2016, police said.

"Heroin, fentanyl and cocaine trafficked into our state from other regions have been a scourge to our community," Birge said. "In Kent County alone, the number of overdose deaths from controlled substances increased by over 50 percent from 2016 to 2017, and we lost 156 of our neighbors to overdoses in 2017."

Investigators used wiretaps on seven different telephones used by multiple co-conspirators, officials said.

In total, 24 people were convicted as a result of the charges in the investigation.

"Our federal and state law enforcement partners will not rest until they have traced these drugs to their source, like Mr. Castro," Birge said. "Stiff penalties like the one the court issued here are warranted for those who would profit from this poison."

During the arrests and while serving search warrants, officials found more than 30 kilograms of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl; multiple pounds of marijuana; two kilogram presses; more than $1.3 million in drug proceeds; a bullet-proof vest; three handguns; and an assault rifle with an extended magazine, officials said.

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