FRESNO (CBS SF) — A high-ranking Nuestra Familia prison gang member has pleaded guilty to running a drug ring out of a Fresno County prison, authorities announced.

Salvador Castro was accused of using a contraband cellphone from inside Pleasant Valley State Prison to recruit and form a new gang regiment in Kings and Tulare counties to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California McGregor Scott said in a press statement.

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Salvador Castro Jr. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

According to the plea agreement, Castro coordinated with gang associates to transport about 10 pounds of meth from the Sacramento area to a residence in Visalia. He also arranged with co-conspirators outside of prison to protect the meth during transit, and discussed plans to distribute it to buyers in the Central Valley.

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Pleasant Valley State Prison (CDCR)

Castro has been serving a life sentence since 1997 for a third-strike conviction for possession of a firearm by an ex-felon. He faces faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Last year, Castro was among a group of dozens charged in federal court with running a major methamphetamine distribution and violent crime network controlled by the Norteño street gang and the Nuestra Familia prison gang following a 10-month multi-agency law enforcement operation.

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