Man pleads guilty to drug conspiracy, sentenced to 12 years in prison

Local News
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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Police announced Wednesday that 59-year-old Hector Castaneda has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in relation to his role in a 1997 drug conspiracy.

From 1996 to 1997, Castaneda and his four co-defendants, Ramiro Trevino, Raul Cruz-Velasco, Joseph Cuevas and Jose Villanueva, were involved in a conspiracy to transport heroin from Texas to Chicago. The conspirators transported five kilograms of heroin from Texas to Chicago on four occasions. On the last occasion in July 5, 1997, a deputy with the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Office intercepted the heroin during a traffic stop of Villanueva. After the Drug Enforcement Administration and Kankakee Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group conducted an investigation, they arrested all of the conspirators, including Castaneda.

Officials said on July 9, 1997, Castaneda was released from custody on bond. He then fled from the United States to Mexico, where he lived for over 20 years. In the meantime, a trial was held in Urbana, his four co-defendants were all convicted, and the court-imposed sentences on them ranging from 10 years to 12 years and 7 months of imprisonment in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Castaneda returned to Chicago in 2019 and was arrested on his outstanding federal warrant on February 18, 2020, and ordered detained. On March 17, Castaneda pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin and the attempted possession of more than a kilogram of heroin.

At Castaneda’s sentencing hearing on October 18, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mihm found out that Castaneda was responsible for transporting almost 20 kilograms of heroin and that he had obstructed justice by fleeing the United States while on federal bond.

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