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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
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  3. Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 12 Years for Using College-Age Drivers to Import Methamphetamine

Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 12 Years for Using College-Age Drivers to Import Methamphetamine Following HSI San Diego Investigation

Release Date: May 21, 2024

SAN DIEGO — A Los Angeles-based drug trafficker was sentenced in federal court May 17 to 12 years in prison for his leadership role in a drug trafficking organization that employed drivers as young as 18 to import large quantities of methamphetamine into the United States from Mexico in the gas tanks of rental cars. This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

“This defendant will spend the next 12 years of his life behind prison walls to ponder his inexcusable actions as a drug trafficker,” said HSI San Diego acting Special Agent in Charge Christopher Davis. “Juveniles already face so many challenges in their lives, and exploitation by criminal organizations only adds to this already challenging time. HSI is committed to identify, arrest and bring to justice those who prey on young people for profit.”

Castro Bazan, also known as Benji or Benji Banks, 32, of Los Angeles, started using drivers to transport drugs for a Tijuana-based drug trafficking organization in the spring of 2021. Using his status as a club promoter and amateur musician, Castro Bazan hired numerous college-aged drivers, luring them with the prospect of easy money and “all-expenses-paid trips to Mexico.”

A number of the young drivers Castro Bazan employed were arrested at the border and convicted of drug trafficking or related offenses. They now have federal felony convictions on their records.

At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Jinsook Ohta noted that Castro Bazan had a “catastrophic and terrible impact on the lives of young people — teenagers — who had the misfortune to come across his path.”

“Not only did this defendant import staggering amounts of a deadly drug into our community, he took advantage of vulnerable young people who failed to appreciate the tremendous risk involved,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “He turned college-age kids into traffickers and will serve a significant sentence for it.”

Castro Bazan is also facing drug charges in the Eastern District of California for his role in a distribution conspiracy that used couriers to deliver narcotics direct to buyers in Northern California.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert J. Miller and Shivanjali A. Sewak.

Last Updated: 05/21/2024
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