ELKTON — A woman caught with more than an ounce of fentanyl — a dangerous manmade opiate — after she drove into Cecil County from Delaware in December has received a 10-year prison term, according to court records and prosecutors.
Cecil County Circuit Court Administrative Judge Keith A. Baynes imposed a maximum 20-year sentence on the defendant, Kara Nicole Castillo, 28, of Port Deposit, and then suspended half of it during a courtroom hearing on Tuesday.
Baynes imposed the sentence moments after Castillo had pleaded guilty to possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, as part of a plea agreement in which prosecutors dismissed 14 related charges, including importing an illegal drug into the state and possession of a large amount of fentanyl.
The sentence that Baynes imposed reflects the top of state sentencing guidelines, which set a penalty range of five to 10 years of active incarceration for Castillo. State sentencing guidelines are based on a defendant’s criminal record and other factors.
Also part of the sentence, Baynes ordered Castillo to serve three years of supervised probation after completing her 10-year term in a Maryland Department of Corrections prison.
Investigators arrested Castillo on Dec. 19, after Cecil County Drug Task Force members stopped a vehicle driven by Castillo near Elkton, after she had entered Cecil County while returning from Wilmington, Del., prosecutors said.
Having already developed Castillo as a suspect during an investigation, prosecutors added, CCDTF agents conducted a probable-cause search of Castillo and her vehicle.
Investigators found 25.5 grams of fentanyl on Castillo and an additional 7.6 grams of that drug inside her vehicle, translating to a total of 33.1 grams of fentanyl, and confiscated the contraband, court records show. There are 28 grams in an ounce.
“Fentanyl, which is a synthetic opiate, is recognized as one of the leading causes of fatal overdoses in Cecil County,” commented Steven Barlow, a Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office investigator and public information officer.
Cecil County State’s Attorney James Dellmyer applauded the efforts of CCDTF members and of Deputy State’s Attorney Patricia Fitzgerald, lead prosecutor who negotiated the plea agreement with Castillo’s defense lawyer, Michael J. Halter.
“The drug trade in Cecil County presents a risk to the health and safety of its citizens. This top-of-the-guidelines sentence is appropriate and is a reflection of the hard work of the Cecil County Drug Task Force and allied agencies,” Dellmyer remarked.
Dellmyer reported that Fitzgerald has been appointed the head of the Drugs Crimes Unit, to “aggressively curtail the drug trade” in Cecil County, and that “this case is a prime example of the progress we are making in holding drug traffickers accountable in Cecil County.”