Phillip Castillo was living a life that promised easy money, beautiful women and respect among his friends and even enemies.
He was one of the top drug traffickers within the Mexican drug cartel. In fact, he was right under “the big boss.”
It was a risky outfit with uncertainty of whether you would live through the day or end up in jail. But it was all he knew, and he knew a lot about the circuit.
It was a constant high for him. He had wads of cash in his wallet. There were friends eager to join him in any excursion. Drinking parties were common with his choice of any beautiful woman in the room.
“But that high was nothing compared to the high I got when I surrendered to Jesus,” Castillo said. “I felt joy and peace the day I woke up, ready to turn my life around for the Lord. No amount of money or drug could replace that feeling.”
Castillo will be the guest speaker for the annual Revive Yazoo next Monday, June 24.
Castillo grew up in Texas, and he admits he “got into everything.” With a third-grade education, he wasn’t concerned about school or the path he was taking in his young life.
“When I was growing up, it was rough,” he said. “I got my education in the streets.”
Life continued as normal for Castillo. He helped his father paint cars. He eventually got married and continued to work on automobiles. But soon, another world would be presented to him. And it was a hard temptation to pass up.
“I had a group of friends who were involved in the drug world,” he said. “I encountered a group of them in a bar that I had purchased. These men were rolling in the money. They had beautiful women, everything they could ask for was for the taking.”
Unfortunately, these friends were drug dealers. And Castillo wanted a piece of the lifestyle.
It wasn’t long before Castillo worked his way up within the drug circuit. He was labeled as “the number two guy,” and was trafficking marijuana, heroin and cocaine.
“Before long, I became addicted to my own product,” Castillo admits. “I was addicted to heroin for 15 years. I eventually lost everything when there was a huge drug bust.”
Castillo was looking to face 20 years in prison, but he said he found “a loophole.”
“The agents told me they had my fingerprints all over the kilos of cocaine,” he said. “I knew that couldn’t be the case because I never touched the merchandise. I just oversaw the dealing. My case was dismissed, but my problems didn’t go away.”
Castillo was still addicted to drugs and the lifestyle. So much, that he lost control with his wife one night in a heated argument.
“I tried to kill her,” he said, looking down. “Praise God that didn’t happen. I tried to stab her while we were driving, and our daughter was in the back seat. My daughter cried out the name of Jesus. And my hand seemed to turn.”
Castillo’s wife jumped out of the vehicle, and took their six-year-old daughter with her. A warrant was soon issued for Castillo’s arrest.
“I was in jail, and there was a man with one leg in there with me,” Castillo said. “He started to tell me about Jesus. There we were, in the same place, and he was telling me about Jesus?”
But something from the conversation struck a nerve with Castillo. He accepted the Lord into his heart. He surrendered. When he was released from jail, he felt different about the life he was leading. Even with a price on his head from the cartel, he put his life in God’s hands.
“I was sick and tired of hurting, disappointing people,” he said. “One night, I fell asleep and woke up a different man. I don’t understand what happened, but I was no longer an addict. I was happy, with joy and peace. The trees outside that day were beautiful. The song of the birds and the leaves hitting my face was beautiful. I think my former lifestyle kept me from paying attention to those things.”
Castillo would restore his marriage with his estranged wife. In 1991, he became the head pastor of the Word of God Church in Edmond, Okla., and two years later, he began working with prisoners.
“My heart has always been to help people out of a destructive lifestyle, as I did,” Castillo said.
In 1997, Castillo opened a men’s home for recovering addicts called War on Drugs. He would soon partner with My Brother’s Keeper of Hawaii. My Brother’s Keeper of Oklahoma has been helping people for over 20 years.
Castillo even opened a My Brother’s Keeper in Yazoo City.
“The men within My Brother’s Keeper have a better man inside each of them,” Castillo said. “This mission of free of charge, and we expose them to the Word of the Lord. Trust in God, and He will show favor.”
“Look at my story,” he continued. “The Lord saved me from my lifestyle, my addictions. I was living a very destructive path, but He never gave up on me.”