Oct. 22—A 31-year-old Mexican national who helped drug traffickers move methamphetamine and money between Hilo, Mexico and California was convicted Wednesday after a four-day trial.
A 31-year-old Mexican national who helped drug traffickers move methamphetamine and money between Hilo, Mexico and California was convicted Wednesday after a four-day trial.
A federal jury found Luis Miguel Castro Alavez guilty of conspiracy and attempted possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Castro Alavez is scheduled to be sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway on Feb. 7.
Castro Alavez was arrested after Hawaii island police and a Homeland Security Investigations special agent found him with 11 pounds of meth that he allegedly received through the mail June 28 at a Hilo Airbnb.
Castro Alavez was following orders from his handlers in Mexico.
Castro Alavez, aka Jesus Malverde, through an interpreter, told investigators that a Mexican man approached him in a California nightclub on June 15 and recruited him for “work ” in Hilo, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Initially, Castro Alavez believed he would work manual labor but realized the assignment was to “help facilitate the movement of drug money and a drug shipment.”
Members of the organization gave Castro Alavez a plane ticket, a fake green card and a wallet-sized photograph of his new identity, Jesus Malverde.
The green card had Castro Alavez’s photo and another person’s identifying information. Castro Alavez was told to use the green card to conduct transactions at Western Union.
Malverde is the “patron saint of drug trafficking and smuggling ” and is believed to provide safety and protection for workers in the illegal drug trade.
Castro Alavez told investigators that he got Whats App messages from Mexican country codes that instructed him on how to pick up methamphetamine and mail or wire money back to California and Mexico, including using boxes of chocolate.
Both counts carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.
This conviction is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and the Hawaii County Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael F. Albanese and Gregg Paris Yates prosecuted the case.
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