HOLLIDAYSBURG - A Roaring Spring man involved in a drug deal surrounding the exchange of heroin with a street value of $180,000 was sentenced Friday to five to 10 years in state prison.
Joseph M. Castro Jr., 29, of Rockingham Avenue will not be eligible for a reduction in his sentence through the state's Recidivism Risk Reduction Program because among the charges against him was a violation of the state's gun laws.
"We feel Castro was a fairly significant distributor of drugs in the Roaring Spring area and someone we had concerns over," Blair County Assistant District Attorney Derek Elensky said.
Castro was arrested in June after Roaring Spring Police Chief Milton Fields was alerted by the Cambria County Drug Task Force and the FBI that there may be a drug deal going down in the borough.
Fields ended up following a vehicle with Peter Donato and Nichole Rankin, 24, both of Davidsville, inside. He maintained surveillance as the vehicle arrived at the Rockingham Avenue home, witnessing Castro emerge from the residence with a bag which he placed in the back seat of the car driven by Rankin.
Court papers stated that Fields observed a bag of money in the rear area of the car and took Rankin and Donato into custody.
Police also observed Castro going to the home of Bryan Dick on Cherry Street, Roaring Spring. Officers conducted a search of the Dick and Castro properties, coming up with 6,000 bags of heroin and $16,100.
Castro, at the time, denied any knowledge of the drugs.
When Castro appeared before Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle, he entered guilty pleas to possession with intent to deliver, possession of heroin and a gun charge because he gave Dick, a person not licensed to carry a weapon, a 9 mm pistol.
The prison sentence was based on the weight of the heroin that was involved in the drug deal, Elensky said.
Police seized 25 firearms from Castro. Under the plea deal, Castro will be permitted to transfer three of them to a girlfriend while 22 other weapons, including a sawed-off shotgun, will be destroyed.
While the law permits some of the firearms to be transferred to the girlfriend, Elensky said Castro will not be permitted to carry a weapon because of his felony convictions.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.