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CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – A 21-year-old Hidalgo County man has pleaded guilty to possessing with the intent to distribute 4.5 kilograms of cocaine, announced Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Daniel C. Comeaux, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Today, Matthew Ethan Joseph Castillo admitted he knowingly attempted to smuggle the narcotics past a U.S. Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint.

On Sept. 29, 2021, Castillo was traveling on a Tornado commercial passenger bus that entered the primary inspection area of the checkpoint near Falfurrias. There, a service canine alerted to a specific piece of luggage in the lower compartment of the bus. Authorities identified Castillo as the owner.

They searched the item and found two wooden tortilla presses, each containing two bundles of cocaine. They had been individually wrapped in carbon paper and coffee and sealed in plastic. 

The drugs had an estimated street value of more than $300,000.

Sentencing has been set for May 31 before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos. At that time, Castillo faces a minimum of five and up to 40 years in prison as well as a maximum $5 million possible fine.

He has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of BP. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marck is prosecuting the case.