FRESNO (CBS SF) — High-ranking Nuestra Familia prison gang member Salvador Castro Jr., was sentenced Monday to 17 years and six months in prison after pleading guilty in January to running a drug ring out of a California prison.

Castro, 51, is already serving a 26-year-to-life sentence for a third-strike offense at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, Fresno County. In a press statement, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Phillip Talbert said Castro pleaded guilty to using contraband cellphones in 2019 to lead a group of Norteño street gang members in Kings and Tulare counties in a cocaine and methamphetamine distribution ring.

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According to court documents, Castro recruited gang members, encouraged them to commit robberies, and coordinated the transportation, delivery, and resale of the drugs. The judge Monday ordered Castro to served his federal sentence consecutively to the state sentence he had been serving.

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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