FRESNO — On May 24, 2021, Salvador Castro Jr., 51, of Fresno, was sentenced to 17 years and six months in prison for conspiring to sell more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.
Castro was one of more than 50 individuals charged in June 2019 as part of Operation Red Reaper, a federal, state, and local law enforcement operation that worked to dismantle the criminal activities of the Nuestra Familia Prison Gang in Kings and Tulare Counties. At the conclusion of the operation, federal charges were brought against 23 of those defendants, with the remaining being charged by the local district attorneys’ offices.
“Thanks to the local, state and federal law enforcement officers who put a stop to this drug trafficking ring run by inmates in prison. This is an example of the law enforcement work that can be accomplished when resources and expertise are combined to target crime,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.
According to court documents, Castro is a high-ranking Nuestra Familia prison gang member, who was serving a 26-year-to-life sentence for a third-strike offense. In 2019, from inside his cell in Pleasant Valley State Prison, Castro used contraband cellphones to organize and lead a group of Norteno street gang members in Kings and Tulare Counties. Castro recruited gang members, encouraged them to commit robberies, and coordinated the transportation, delivery, and resale of pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty on Jan. 12, 2021. Judge Drozd ordered that his federal sentence be served consecutive to the state sentence he had been serving when he committed the offense.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Kings County Gang Task Force, the Special Operations Unit of the California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the Kings County District Attorney's Office.