Another defendant charged in drug distribution case

Posted 4/27/23

Federal prosecutors have charged another suspect in connection with a drug distribution scheme that allegedly brought fentanyl to Park County.

Jonathan Castillo faces two felony counts of aiding …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Another defendant charged in drug distribution case


Federal prosecutors have charged another suspect in connection with a drug distribution scheme that allegedly brought fentanyl to Park County.

Jonathan Castillo faces two felony counts of aiding and abetting the delivery of fentanyl, according to documents unsealed last week. One of the charges appears to be tied to a large shipment of pills that was sent from Arizona to Cody in mid-November, while the details surrounding the other are unclear.

Castillo is alleged to have committed both crimes while in Wyoming Department of Corrections custody for a prior drug offense, according to state and federal records.

The 28-year-old pleaded not guilty at a Friday appearance in Wyoming’s U.S. District Court.

Castillo was charged in late February, but the complaint from prosecutors remains under seal, suggesting the case remains under active investigation. However, some information about the allegations are included in a separate complaint that was filed against Castillo’s co-defendant, Tucker Wirfel of Cody.

Wirfel was caught with more than 120 fentanyl pills, steroids and drug paraphernalia on Dec. 29, when agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation searched his Cody residence. Wirfel allegedly told the agents that the pills were what remained from a shipment of 750 to 1,000 pills that he’d received some time earlier. R.J. Fergon of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service checked delivery records and concluded the package must have arrived on Nov. 17; it had been shipped from a Phoenix suburb a few days earlier and weighed more than 1.37 pounds.

Wirfel reportedly told authorities that Castillo had arranged the shipment and one of Castillo’s charges appears to correspond to the shipment, as it references Nov. 17.

The two men met while they were both serving prison time: Wirfel for a burglary and Castillo for delivering meth.

Castillo hails from California and, according to Wirfel, may have ties to a Mexican cartel. Castillo landed in prison after he was caught bringing a pound of meth from his home state to Rock Springs in October 2018.

At the time, Castillo reportedly told DCI that the delivery was “not very much” meth. He is quoted in charging documents as saying he’d previously been caught with some 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of meth, 66 pounds (30 kilograms) of cocaine and $50,000 in cash. That incident in California resulted in six months in jail and a year of house arrest, Castillo later testified. However, the attempted delivery of the pound in Wyoming netted a stiffer seven- to 10-year prison sentence.

Castillo served about three-and-a-half years before being transferred in April 2022 to the Casper Re-Entry Center. Inmates remain in Department of Corrections custody while living at an adult community corrections facility — or halfway house — like the one in Casper, but they receive a number of additional freedoms.

While at the facility, Castillo is alleged to have reached out to Wirfel on Facebook and to have tried to get the former inmate to help him “get rid of product.” According to charging documents, Wirfel told authorities that he refused the deal, but he did give Castillo his address.

The package arrived at Wirfel’s Kent Avenue apartment several weeks later, on Nov. 17, authorities allege. Inside, Wirfel said he found a teddy bear. At Castillo’s direction, Wirfel ripped open the stuffed animal and found it was full of fentanyl pills.

“Wirfel advised that he did not pay Castillo for the pills and was directed to pay Castillo $2,500 for the pills,” Agent Fergon’s affidavit says, indicating that Castillo was charging $5 per pill.

Castillo’s indictment alleges that he did “aid and abet a person known to the Grand Jury” to distribute fentanyl on Nov. 17 and again on Jan. 28. However, the court records that are currently available don’t appear to offer any details about the January incident, nor do they indicate the identity of the person or persons involved in the two transactions.

After the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming charged Castillo on Feb. 27, he was booked into the Natrona County Detention Center and briefly transferred back to the Department of Corrections before ultimately being taken into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, according to a department spokesman.

As for Wirfel, he’s been charged with possessing fentanyl with intent to distribute, related to the pills found at his apartment in December. The complaint alleges that DCI agents obtained text messages that indicated Wirfel was offering to sell a variety of narcotics in the Cody area in November and December. Wirfel ultimately agreed to cooperate with agents as a confidential informant, court records say, and he reportedly worked with DCI to purchase meth from Cody resident Kelly Brainerd three times in January. However, Wirfel was arrested in early February, after DCI agents allegedly discovered that he’d covertly delivered a significant amount of meth — the exact quantity appears to be in some dispute — to one of Brainerd’s associates.

Brainerd has been charged in state court with six felony counts in connection with the alleged meth sales in January and for allegedly arranging the February deal with Wirfel. He’s pleaded not guilty and has been released to house arrest on a $25,000 surety bond.

The Cody man who’s alleged to have picked up the meth from Wirfel on Brainerd’s behalf, Shane Scheid, remains in custody, with bail set at $40,000. Scheid has pleaded not guilty and has criticized the case against him, also raising concerns about his due process rights. Like Brainerd, he is awaiting a trial in Park County District Court.

A federal magistrate judge ordered Wirfel to remain in custody, but he’s seeking to be released to a treatment facility to “address his specific substance abuse issues.” Prosecutors oppose his release.

Castillo has also been detained. Both he and Wirfel are tentatively scheduled for a May 22 trial.