CRIMINAL DEFENSE FUNDS
April 07, 2008
They say that one out of ten Americans is now incarcerated in our penal institutions. I have never been lucky on percentages in any way shape or form. My lottery number was very low so I got drafted into the Vietnam War. And as the only son, my father had instructed me to pay my dues to my country, which I proudly did by becoming an Infantry Sgt.
On March 06, 2008, I was arrested for the first time in my life, at the age of 58 years by ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), for Conspiracy to obtain firearms and of course the "aided and abetted" charge. They have me on approximately 35 overt acts of what they call "straw purchase". If found guilty I could be spending the rest of my life incarcerated, not bad for a veteran who placed his life on the line, several times, for his country. Ironically enough, the individual who sold me the guns and broke the same kind of laws that I have been accused of breaking, has not been charged with any crime. I would say, that would constitute, "Selective Prosecution". Anyway, they say ignorance to the law is no excuse, but the fact of the matter is that at no time was I aware that I was breaking the law.
Approximately three years ago, I started to attend the Saxet Gun Show by selling my book, "Powderburns". I found the experience overwhelming because it turned out to be great therapy for my PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). To ease my "cutting edge" a bit, I was back to wearing my Vietnam attire for the gun shows. According, to U.S. Government (Department of Justice) and the Veterans Administration, I have been diagnosed with severe PTSD going back to 1992. Since then I have been on therapy and on medication. My stress has caused me to become a diabetic, and to have hypertension, and heart problems, for which I also take medication. As time went on I started to collect Vietnam vintage surplus to sell. But before long, I began to do what most of the vendors were doing at the gun show, selling and buying both used and new guns without a license. Over half of the gun shows vendors are still doing what I got charged with. However, I strongly believe that because of my involvement as an "expert witness" and an activist against certain actions of our government, I obviously had become a target. After all, I had been forewarned by a defense attorney, that an AUSA Federal prosecutor had advised him to instruct me that some way shape or form, they were going to target me until they got me. And that they did.
Several months ago, it was revealed by vendors at the gun shows and city employees of Pharr that ATF was on the upper level (inside) the Pharr Convention Center filming the gun show. They were seen utilizing a key to the glass doors to enter the upper level. The ATF had begun to profile Latinos who were attending the gun show. Some were arrested for several gun violations and others were entrapped. Some, after legally purchasing a weapon at the gun show, two hours later ATF was at their door steps asking to see the weapon. Racial Profiling IS against the law. I took my allegations to City Hall but to no avail. They claimed that they were not aware of the situation. I guess "ignorance to the law is no excuse" does not apply here. I finally contacted the local paper, The Advance News Journal", (January 30, 2008) who did an extensive story on my findings.
After spending the night in jail, I was released on a $25,000. Personal Recognizance Bond. As I drove home, I could not believe that after twenty years in the Criminal Justice field, I had just spent the night in a cell block with over 100 of the worst criminals in Texas. At no time did the ATF agents warn the guards of my law enforcement career, thus placing me with the criminal population. Furthermore, the agents were aware that I needed to take my heart medication early in the evening, but they also were aware that the nurse in the jail would not give me the medication, because the doctor would not know what it was. In all fairness, the agents did give my medications to the guards, but I never received them. This was as surreal as it could get. At the bond hearing I qualified and was assigned a Public Defender. Just this week I released him because as they say, "you get what you pay for". When he told me that I had very little chance for a defense, it was time for me to be looking for a defense attorney. He further stated that, in the past, he had had a problem with the AUSA handling my case. He referred to it as the AUSA coming late into a case and did not know what he was doing. He further stated that I needed to sign a Plea Agreement, before I left his office. I signed it without reading it because he said he was in a hurry to send it to the AUSA office. He further explained that this should have been done a couple of weeks prior and blames it on the Easter holidays. As I drove home and read the Plea I could not believe what they were asking me to do. The following day, I called the "Public Defender" and told him not to submit the agreement. Now, how is it possible that they know that I am suffering from severe PTSD and are asking me to sign something with my mental state of mind? Part of my released condition, I was ordered by the judge to get psychological help, which I did. The reports are continuing to be turned over to Pre-Trial Services.
On April 04, 2008, I received a forfeit letter from ATF, stating that they were seizing the weapons that were found at a residence. When the ATF agents searched the residence (without a search warrant) they found some gun show weapons outside in a storage room. May I remind you, that a citizen of this country is protected under the Second (the right to bear arms) and Forth Amendments (…against unreasonable searches and seizures…) of the Constitution of the United States? The lead agent on the search, had threatened the owner of the house, that if she did not give consent to search that they would call the police, the news media, and were going to wait for my grandkids to get home from school, so that they could witness the search. She was forced to sign a consent search and they proceeded to take the hinges off the doors of the storage room.
My defense will be my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which I got while working for the DEA in Latin American for six straight years. I will be asking for the sealed Iran-Contra investigation files, that President George W. Bush sealed after he came into office. If it worked for Oliver North, why should it not work for me? For the first time, I am hoping that the truth will finally be revealed of what really occurred in Latin America under President Reagan and Bush I. Recently Senator John Kerry and I were featured in Americans Drug War on Show Time. This documentary disclosed some evidence of wrong doing by our government. The head of the DEA, admitted that the CIA were complicit in drug trafficking.
In conclusion, I am in desperate need of a PTSD defense attorney. If anyone knows of one that can assist me, I would certainly appreciate it.
As embarrassing as it will ever get for me, I am asking for donations for my Criminal Defense Fund. I still consider myself as a Veteran of my third, and perhaps most dangerous war, the war against the criminals in my own government.
Celerino Castillo, 3rd
2709 North 28 1/2 Street
McAllen, Texas 78501
Texas State Bank
Account # 41137264