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California man admits shipping meth to Hawaii in vehicle

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A California man pleaded guilty Thursday to participating in a drug ring, admitting that he hid methamphetamine in a vehicle he shipped to Hawaii.

As part of a plea agreement, Eric Castro, 34, is expected to receive a 10-year sentence on Jan. 12.

Castro of Galt, California, was part of a drug ring that dealt 60 pounds of meth in Hawaii between 2001 and 2005, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Thomas said. Castro stored 8 1/2 pounds of meth inside the engine of a Jeep Cherokee he shipped from California to the Big Island in 2005, according to court documents.

The arrests of Castro and his three co-defendants put a dent in Hawaii’s drug trade, Thomas said.

"The case did have an impact on drug distribution on the Big Island," he said outside of court.

Authorities seized 7 1/2 pounds of the meth shipped in the Jeep on the property of one of the co-defendants.

In 2005, the street value for a pound of meth on the Big Island was about $22,000, Thomas said. Castro was the source of the drugs that his co-defendants dealt on the Big Island, according to court documents, which also said that one of the men shipped 9 1/2 pounds of meth from California to Hawaii in a cattle container.

Castro was a fugitive for eight years before authorities found him in California, Thomas said. The co-defendants have since pleaded guilty.

Federal Public Defender Shanlyn Park, who represented Castro, declined to comment after the hearing.

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