A convicted drug trafficker was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison -- after the judge saw grisly pictures of a murder victim that the trafficker texted to his own girlfriend.
Juan Castro-Navarro, 43, of Sinaloa, Mexico, had pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin.
Judge Gonzalo Curiel called him a "monster" who distributed "poison" in the U.S.
Castro was not charged with murder because the victim appears not to have been a U.S. citizen and the 2014 killing occurred in Tijuana, prosecutors said.
At sentencing, prosecutors introduced a series of text messages sent by Castro to his fellow traffickers and his girlfriend showing pictures of a rival gang member who had been kidnapped and killed because he stole a quantity of methamphetamine from Castro.
One picture showed the victim with a green plastic bag over his head and bruising on his buttocks. One picture showed other men with a baseball bat holding him down. And another showed the victim with a black eye and tied to a chair with his hands behind his back.
"I just want you to know that I love you guys and I'm only going to kill one more," Castro texted to his fellow traffickers and his girlfriend, according to prosecutors. "I have never killed anyone who didn't deserve it. I'll see you later."
His girlfriend allegedly texted back: "What is this? Are you OK? Thank God. Be careful my love. I love you with all my heart."
An individual identified only as Pokemon texted Castro to ask, "Did you beat him or choke him?"
Castro texted in return: "The second."
Pokemon then responded: "Very well" and used a semi-colon and a parenthesis to denote a smile.