Alberto Lopez-Castillo

Castillo

A Santa Maria man pleaded guilty via teleconference Monday to a federal gun charge in connection with a Santa Barbara County arrest in October 2020.

Alberto Castillo, 25, initially pleaded not guilty Feb. 22 to three federal charges, including drug trafficking and possessing a firearm while committing a drug trafficking crime.

He changed his plea as part of an agreement that reduced the charges to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to court records. 

Claire Simonich, his federal public defender, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Castillo was apprehended by Santa Maria Police officers shortly before 3 a.m. Oct. 15 in the 800 block of East Tabitha Lane in Santa Maria and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of six felony charges, including illegally carrying a loaded firearm and ammunition, possession of narcotics for sale and drug trafficking.

The case was set to be prosecuted locally, but was dismissed in Superior Court “in the interests” of justice in January and adopted federally on Feb. 16, according to court records.

Deputy District Attorney Madison Whitmore and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles have declined to offer details on the case.

The pistol contained two rounds of Italian-manufactured Guilio-Fiocchi-Lecco, one round of Russian-manufactured Tulammo ammunition and bullets made in Minnesota and Arkansas that had “traveled either in interstate commerce to the state of California or from a foreign nation to the United States,” according to court records.

Castillo is scheduled for a sentencing hearing at 8 a.m. Nov. 8 at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. 

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