Court hearings held for 11 defendants arrested in June 22 drug raids

Court hearings held for 11 defendants arrested in June 22 drug raids
20 individuals are in federal custody on a federal criminal indictment for a drug trafficking conspiracy, and a related federal complaint for drug charges (Source: Lubbock County Detention Center)
20 individuals are in federal custody on a federal criminal indictment for a drug trafficking conspiracy, and a related federal complaint for drug charges (Source: Lubbock County Detention Center)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Eleven defendants arrested during a series of drug raids on June 22 appeared in federal court on Wednesday morning.

Most hearings were resolved quickly, but Alejandro Castillo's detainment hearing lasted much longer.

The government requested a motion to detain, citing Castillo's risk of flight and the potential danger to the public if he were to be released. The government called a DEA Special Agent to the stand.

The prosecutor and special agent went through a timeline of the May 2018 investigation:

Investigators believed Jose Garcia-Lizanaga "Chepe" to be a multiple kilo cocaine distributor. They were able to intercept communications between Chepe and other defendants on this case. Those communications involved a stash house and "diluting" and "re rocking" cocaine to prepare it for sale.

While doing surveillance, agents observed a possible drug transaction. A vehicle involved in that transaction was followed to Castillo's house. This led agents to further investigate Castillo.

Later, while doing surveillance on Eduardo Cruz's house, agents observed Castillo arrive and receive a package. After leaving the house, Castillo was stopped by a LSO deputy for a traffic violation.

The deputy asked Castillo where he was going and if he had anything illegal in the vehicle. Castillo initially said he had nothing illegal in the vehicle. Eventually, he told the deputy he had a pistol.

The deputy asked Castillo to exit the vehicle so he could retrieve the firearm. As Castillo was exiting the vehicle, the deputy saw a plastic bag with a white substance under the seat. The deputy used his K9 to search the vehicle and recovered 386 grams (just under one pound) of cocaine from Castillo's vehicle along with the loaded pistol and approximately $2,700 cash. The agent on the stand said this is considered a distributable amount of cocaine.

The government rested its case.

The defense cross-examined the special agent, pointing out that Castillo was not read his Miranda warnings at any point during the traffic stop. They also noted that Castillo lived in his house for 11 years, had stable employment as a truck driver, and had no prior criminal convictions. They argued that he would not be a flight risk or a danger to the public.

In closing, the prosecution said they believed Castillo might be a flight risk and would be a danger to the public based on the fact he was found in possession of a large amount of narcotics and a loaded firearm.

He is expected to appear in court with the others on Aug. 13.

Jesus Franco, Shad Evans, Gregory Holleman, and Broderick Bradley previously told the judge they would obtain their own attorneys for Wednesday. The four of them were not able to do that, so they will now be appointed public defenders and will appear again on July 2.

Robert Melendez will appear in court again Friday.

Antonio Alvarez and Arturo Sanchez both waived their right to a detention hearing and made not guilty pleas. They will both remain in custody and return to court on Aug. 13.

Eduardo Cruz and his attorney requested a motion for continuance. He will appear in court again Friday at 11 a.m.

Kim Herrera and Jessica DeLeon both pled not guilty on Wednesday and were granted unsecured bonds of $25,000. They will go to trial Aug. 13.

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