CRIME

Santa Clara police arrest man for fraud, find drug lab during arrest

Sep 28, 2022, 5:42 PM
Emergency lights...
(FILE PHOTO, Deseret News)
(FILE PHOTO, Deseret News)

SANTA CLARA, Utah — A man in Washington County, Utah is facing multiple felony charges after police found a “portable lab” during a fraud arrest Monday.

Santa Clara police originally were investigating Alejandro Castillo, 32, for stealing credit card information from a woman when they found drugs and drug paraphernalia in his apartment.

The woman victim and a male complainant contacted police on Sept. 20 about unauthorized credit card charges on their account; a $250 payment to Santa Clara Utilities, a $50 hookup fee to Santa Clara City, $10.67 towards a RING doorbell, $72.35 for gas, and two unknown $10.68 charges totaling to $393.70.

The victim told police she visited a friend at their apartment where Castillo was staying, and she thought he was a “little suspicious,” according to arrest documents.

“She left her purse inside the apartment while they went swimming and believes Castillo illegally accessed her wallet and stole her information,” according to arrest documents.

The victim told police she did not authorize the use of her credit card and would like to prosecute Castillo. Police contacted an employee from the Santa Clara City Utility department and learned that the victim’s friend was planning to move out and asked for the utilities to be turned off, according to arrest documents.

The Santa Clara City employee told police that Castillo filled out an application to turn on the utilities, but they couldn’t find his payment under his name. Castillo told the employee he used his “girlfriend’s” name and her card.

According to arrest documents, the female victim never had a relationship with Castillo and only met him when she visited her friend.

On Monday, police visited Castillo’s apartment to question and arrest him for the accusations. After being read his Miranda rights, Castillo denied all the accusations and told police that he never called the utility department.

Castillo was placed in handcuffs and searched by the arresting officer, who found a folded dollar bill with what appeared to be cocaine inside with a plastic straw in his pants, according to court documents.

During the arrest, Castillo said he felt a sudden pain in his upper left shoulder and was medically checked out to a local hospital, where they cleared him and was booked into Washington County’s Purgatory Correctional Facility.

According to documents, the property owner and two other tenants told police they found six containers with marijuana in a closet outside of Castillo’s room. After obtaining a search warrant, police found four 27-gallon-sized boxes full of marijuana that were processed for use.

Officers also found a 54-quart-container with “a large number of visible mushrooms growing inside,” documents state. “The base had plant material/mulch consistent with the growing and fertilizing of psychedelic mushrooms.”

Police noted the setup was consistent with how mushrooms are grown and manufactured in a “portable lab-type setting.”

Castillo is facing five counts of unlawful use of a financial transaction card, five counts of theft, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, two counts of use or possession of drug paraphernalia, two counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and a felony count of operation of a clandestine laboratory.

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Santa Clara police arrest man for fraud, find drug lab during arrest