Former Casper Inmate Smuggles Fentanyl into Wyoming via Teddy Bear
A former inmate at a Casper "halfway house," pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to a fentanyl-related crime in which he sent the drug in a teddy bear by mail to a dealer in Cody.
Jonathan Castillo entered the plea to one count of distribution of more than 40 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl before Wyoming Chief U.S. District Court Judge in Casper.
In exchange for the plea, the federal prosecution agreed to dismiss another identical count at sentencing, which Skavdahl set for Sept. 15.
The indictment, handed up by the grand jury on March 16, said conviction of this crime is punishable by five years to 40 years imprisonment, up to a $5 million fine, not less than four years to life imprisonment and a $100 special assessment.
Based on federal sentencing guidelines about the crime, acceptance of responsibility and criminal history, Skavdahl said Castillo could spend between eight years, four months to 10 years, five months imprisonment; adding there's a remote possibility that sentence could be between 15 years, eight months to 19 years, seven months imprisonment.
The term of incarceration will not be known until the sentencing date and the results of a pre-sentence report, the judge said.
Castillo will remain in custody.
The case began in November 2022 when a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agent learned a former prison make of Castillo's, Tucker Wirfel, was using and distributing illegal controlled substances in the Cody area, according to an affidavit by a U.S. Postal Inspector.
Based text messages, Wirfel appeared to be facility a drug deal -- fentanyl pls and methamphetamine -- between someone in Cody and people in California and Cheyenne
On Nov. 28, the DCI agent obtained a search warrant for Wirfel's phone account, and found a text message about distributing illegal controlled substances including fentanyl if there was a "'big enough order.'"
On Dec. 29, the agent obtained a search warrant for Wirfel's address and recovered 124 pills of suspected fentanyl a USPS parcel containing steroids, vials of steroids, drug paraphernalia and small plastic bags of suspected fentanyl residue.
Wirfel was taken to the DCI office in Cody, waived his Miranda rights and agreed to being interviewed.
He said he had obtained fentanyl pills from Denver and had 750 to 1,000 of them. Those pills were left over from pills he received in a USPS parcel from Phoenix sent by Castillo, according to the affidavit.
Enter the teddy bear.
At the time of the Dec. 29 interview, Wirfel said former prison-mate Castillo had recently been released from a "'halfway house,'" contacted him by Facebook and provided his cell number. Wirfel also believed Castillo was connected to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico.
Castillo was trying to get Wirfel to "'get rid of product'" for him and wanted to send him a "'care package.'"
Wirfel said he wasn't interested but gave Castillo his address.
A few weeks later, the USPS parcel arrived with a teddy bear inside.
Castillo contacted Wirfel and told him to open the bear.
"Wirfel tore open the teddy bear and located fentanyl pills inside," according to the affidavit.