The third defendant in a cocaine distribution operation from May 2010 was sentenced in Juneau Superior Court on Wednesday for two charges of third degree attempted misconduct involving a controlled substance, class ‘C’ felonies.
Judge Philip Pallenberg sentenced convicted cocaine dealer Adalderto Castaneda-Magallanes to 41/2 years in prison with 51/2 suspended.
“The quantities are large enough and the activity extensive enough that this case calls for a sentence above the bottom of the sentencing range and closer to the top,” Pallenberg said.
Assistant district attorney Angie Kemp had asked for a five-year sentence.
“(The cocaine is) certainly is dangerous in and of itself,” she said. “But the fact that he was selling out of the Breakwater Hotel, a hotel located in a residential neighborhood that serves other residents as well. It’s a neighborhood community and is located less than half a city block from a high school, another two blocks from a middle school another three blocks from there is an elementary school.”
Kemp said Castaneda-Magallanes had a prior 2008 drug related case in which he had been deported from the United States after serving 90 days in jail.
“Skipping ahead to 2010, Mr. Castaneda-Magallanes is back in the country again illegally,” Kemp said.
Kemp also stated that Castaneda-Magallanes faces federal charges.
Castaneda-Magallanes received a long suspended sentence in part to discourage his return to Juneau, Pallenberg said.
“The suspended time will ensure that if Mr. Castaneda did resurface here illegally the state could impose the other 51/2 years,” Pallenberg said.
Defense attorney Kirsten Swanson said there was no common sense reason to include probation or parole in the sentence.
“He doesn’t speak English,” Swanson said. “They are not going to easily put him into some type of rehab program and he is not a citizen of the United States.”
Castaneda-Magallanes is the third person to be sentenced as part of a recent breakup of a drug-dealing operation in Juneau. Co-defendant Jose Raul Luna pleaded guilty to three reckless endangerment charges, class ‘A’ misdemeanors, as the driver for the drug deals and was sentenced this April to 360 days with 270 suspended and 90 to serve for each offense. Felony charges of third- and fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance were dismissed. Luna also forfeited his interests in two vehicles.
Co-defendant Eric E. Coffee pleaded guilty to attempted third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and attempted aiding and betting of third-degree MICS. He received a composite sentence in June of five years with four suspended and one to serve.
However, Pallenberg said law enforcement officials believed Castaneda-Magallanes to be the ringleader of the operation.
“I’ve read lots of things,” Pallenberg said. “It is certainly the case that the investigating officers believed that Mr. Castaneda was the primary source of the drugs. And in the other two cases that have come to court for sentencing I think there was general agreement with all the lawyers in those cases that Mr. Castaneda was the source.”
Kemp said Coffee introduced Castaneda-Magallanes to what turned out to be undercover officers. Small controlled buys by the police eventually became larger purchases.
“On the final purchase on the first of September, Mr. Castaneda-Magallanes sold a detective roughly 28 grams of cocaine,” Kemp said. “As things progressed the quantities increased. You start small and work up because the source begins to trust you more.”
The Southeast Alaska Cities Against Drugs (SEACAD) agents believed Castaneda-Magallanes was using the Breakwater Hotel as his distribution center. Several thousand dollars was found on scene, some of it marked by law enforcement, along with cocaine.
On the same day, officers interviewed both Coffee and Luna. Coffee said he set up a buy between law enforcement and Castaneda-Magallanes. Luna said he was paid approximately $350 to $400 a week by Castaneda-Magallanes for providing transportation. He also admitted to paying for a room at the hotel as well.
Pallenberg said it was the likeliest conclusion that Castaneda was the source, since he has a prior conviction involving similar activity, and he received a very light sentence because it was believed he would be deported and would not be seen in Juneau again.
Kemp stated the evidence she laid out on the prosecution’s table wasn’t for “fun and games” but to give the court a full understanding what six ounces of cocaine in Juneau looks like and called Castaneda-Magallanes the “ringleader” of the operation.
Swanson said she did not believe Castaneda-Magallanes was the ringleader of the drug operation, and that her client was at a disadvantage.
“The police officer spoke some Spanish but I think just by virtue of being in another country and not speaking the language it is easy to get a lot of the blame,” Swanson said. “I am not saying he is blameless.”
Castaneda-Magallanes, through an interpreter, declined to comment at the sentencing.
• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.