Alleged gang member sentenced to 50 years

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

Dec. 9, 2010 at 6:09 a.m.

Suspected gang member Jose Castillo was found guilty of arson and sentenced to 50 years in prison Wednesday by a Jackson County Judge.

Twenty-fourth Judicial District Court Judge Joseph P. Kelly presided over the trial before the court, which started Monday and ended Wednesday evening.

In addition to the 50-year sentence, Castillo was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for setting fire to his La Ward residence and a 1992 Ford truck on Oct. 30, 2009.

An investigator with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Darren Stancik, said Castillo and his girlfriend, who also occupied the single-family residence at the time of the fire, were involved in a domestic disturbance the day of the arson.

"There was a disturbance at the residence earlier in the day, and (Castillo) came back later with several alleged gang members and set the house and a vehicle on fire," Stancik said

Officials believe Castillo, 29, to be a member of the Texas prison-affiliated gang Hermanos de Pistoleres Latinos.

Another alleged HPL gang member, Jose Celis, 20, was also indicted for participating in the arson. Celis' charges are still pending.

Currently, Castillo is being held in the Jackson County Jail, but Stancik said he will eventually be transferred to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.



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