CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Five members of a local drug
trafficking organization have been ordered to federal prison following their
varying convictions on drug and/or firearms charges, announced U.S. Attorney
Ryan K. Patrick. Sentences ranged from 138-420 months in federal prison.
Longino Castillo, 27, and Isaiah Martinez, 20, both pleaded
guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and
possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Castillo
was also convicted of possession of a machine gun conversion device. Michael
Molina, 25, Justin Ray Flores, 36, and Manuel Garcia, 31, all pleaded guilty to
conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a synthetic cannabinoid. Molina
further admitted to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug
trafficking crime and felon in possession of a firearm. All are residents of
At a hearing that concluded late Wednesday, Jan. 10, Senior
U.S. District Judge Hayden Head sentenced all five defendants to federal
Castillo was ordered to serve a total of 420 months in
prison. He received a 360 months for the methamphetamine conspiracy and 120
months possessing the machine gun conversion device to run concurrently. The
court also imposed a 60-month sentence for possession of a firearm in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime which will run consecutive to the other
Martinez was sentenced to a total of 240 months in prison -
180 months for the methamphetamine conspiracy in addition to a consecutive 60
months for the firearms charge.
Molina received a 78-month sentence for the conspiracy to
possess with intent to distribute a synthetic cannabinoid as well as a 60-month
consecutive term for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug
trafficking crime for a total of 138 months in prison.
Flores and Garcia received respective terms of 138 and 144
months in federal prison.
At the hearing, the court heard testimony regarding the
manner in which authorities handle newly emerging synthetic narcotics, the
adverse effects of those substance and imminent hazard they present to the
public safety. Further testimony was provided about the large number of
firearms and other items that were seized as a result of the investigation,
some of which include an unregistered machine gun conversion device, several
homemade suppressors, explosive devices, ammunition and body armor. In
addition, the court heard about the impact synthetic cannabinoids have on the
In handing down the sentence, Judge Head noted that the
common practice of referring to synthetic cannabinoids as “legal” or “synthetic
marijuana” misleads the public about the true dangers of the substances. The
court further acknowledged the significant impact of synthetic narcotics,
specifically the burden it places on law enforcement and the community.
Between May 2016 and May 2017, local law enforcement
officers and federal agents conducted numerous search warrants at several
residences and area hotels related to the distribution of narcotics by a group
of individuals identifying themselves in online social media as “Team GoHard.”
The investigation revealed that the group would frequently rent hotel rooms and
move from place to place as a way to distribute the narcotics and evade law
At each of the locations, law enforcement seized different
types and quantities of controlled substances as well as multiple firearms.
Laboratory analysis confirmed the presence of scheduled substances,
methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine base and marijuana. In addition, laboratory
analysis confirmed the presence of 5F-MDMB-PINACA and FUB-AMB which are controlled
under the Controlled Substance Analog Act.
In custody since their arrests, each defendant will remain
in custody and serve their sentences at a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be
designated in the near future.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security
Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and
the Corpus Christi Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant
U.S. Attorney Lance Watt is prosecuting the case.