ballardpotbusthighschoolSPD.jpg
Seattle police display marijuana cigarettes and marijuana-laced brownies seized in April from a Ballard home where the residents allegedly sold marijuana to school kids. (SPD image)

Ballard man faces federal charges for selling marijuana to school kids

A Ballard man faces federal charges for allegedly selling marijuana to high school and middle students out of his home one block from Seattle's Ballard High School.

Police arrested Alejandro Antonio Castillo, 51, Monday morning on a criminal complaint charging him with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, two counts of distribution of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.

"The Department of Justice made clear that we have certain priorities that we will continue to vigorously enforce in the arena of marijuana enforcement. One of those areas is sales and trafficking to minors," said Durkan.

Police first arrested Castillo in April after surveillance and purchases by undercover officers determined he and others were repeatedly selling marijuana to minors from area schools.

While originally a local case, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said the state's legalization of marijuana made it challenging for his office to pursue the case at the state level.

"There was a gap in the law from the time I-502 passed until the legislature fixed the legal definition of marijuana that would have made the case extremely problematic for state prosecutors. We appreciate federal prosecutors stepping in to handle this serious case of dealing marijuana to minors," said Satterberg.

"It's since been clarified so it's not a problem going forward but we wanted to make sure that we avoided that legal problem," Durkan said.

"Also we wanted to emphasize that the federal government still has an interest in these prosecutions, marijuana still remains illegal under federal law and we will vigorously enforce laws regarding sales to minors."

In a criminal complaint, Seattle police reported detectives observed teens from nearby Whitman Middle School and Ballard High School repeatedly going to the back door of Castillo's home, where he lives with family members and associates.

Undercover officers posing as students subsequently bought marijuana and brownies made with marijuana from Castillo or his associates on four different occasions. Police served a search warrant on April 24, 2013, and and seized approximately 1,200 grams of suspected marijuana which included approximately 99 marijuana cigarettes, nine trays of suspected marijuana brownies, four shotguns, one rifle, six handguns, and $4,755 in U.S. Currency.

Castillo faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on all counts. He'll make his initial court appearance Monday afternoon.

The status of a 21-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman also arrested in April during the Seattle police sweep remains undetermined.

The case is being investigated by the Seattle Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hobbs.

"Obviously we can't do every sale of cases to minors but we will try to use our enforcement authorities to make sure that interest is protected," Durkan said.


Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com Reporter
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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