A 33-year-old Waco woman who police said concealed a pistol inside her vagina during a 2015 arrest on drug charges was placed on deferred probation for 10 years Tuesday.
Judge Matt Johnson of Waco’s 54th State District Court granted Ashley Cecilia Castaneda’s request to be placed on deferred probation after her guilty plea in April to possession of methamphetamine.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors waived the possession with intent to deliver allegation against Castaneda, who also was fined $2,500.
Castaneda’s arrest in September 2015 drew widespread media attention because Waco police said at the time that Castaneda told officers on the way to the McLennan County Jail that she had a gun concealed in her vagina.
Castaneda’s attorney, Seth Sutton, said Tuesday that those allegations are not true and that the story becoming an internet sensation was more painful for Castaneda than the actual felony charges against her.
“The ridiculous narrative circulated, first by police, and then by the media, that Ms. Castaneda somehow concealed a gun inside her vagina is and has always been completely false,” Sutton said.
“The-publication of that narrative many times over has caused Ms. Castaneda a great deal of emotional pain and is yet another example of how the internet can destroy lives. The reason it spread so fast in the first place is because it doesn’t seem possible. Well, guess what? It’s not possible.”
Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton was angered by Sutton’s remarks, saying it was his client who created a dangerous situation for herself and others.
“Mr. Sutton is sadly mistaken or has his head buried in the sand if he thinks criminals don’t go to extraordinary length to hide drugs or guns,” Swanton said. “This suspect not only had the weapon in her body cavity, she had drugs hidden strategically inside her bra so as to keep officers from discovering that as well.”
Swanton said at the time that officers stopped a 1998 Toyota Land Rover with a man and a woman inside at North 15th Street and Blair Avenue about 11 p.m. for a traffic violation.
Officers found 2.7 grams of methamphetamine under the driver’s seat and arrested Gabriel Garcia, 33, for possession of methamphetamine in a drug-free zone. Police say the stop was within 1,000 feet of West Elementary School.
Another 29.5 grams of methamphetamine and a set of digital weighing scales were found in Castaneda’s purse, Swanton said.
Castaneda, also arrested on drug charges, reportedly told an officer on the way to jail that she had a Smith & Wesson .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun lodged inside her vagina, Swanton said.
Officers stopped and called for a female officer — Swanton’s daughter, Sabrena Swanton — who retrieved the gun. The handgun had a round chambered and a full magazine of bullets, Patrick Swanton said.
’A safety concern’
“It was a safety concern for the victim, who had a loaded firearm inside her body,” Patrick Swanton said at the time of the arrest. “Depending on a number of factors, that gun could have gone off by body movements or compression of the trigger.
“People have asked us, ‘Why are you even telling us this?’ The reason is because we want people to know this truly does happen,” Patrick Swanton told the Tribune-Herald at the time. “That was an extremely dangerous situation for everyone involved.”
Sutton insisted the allegations are not true. He said Castaneda merely had the gun tucked between her upper thighs, although police reports filed in the case say the female officer pulled the gun from Castaneda’s vagina.
“The real story here is that a young woman got ‘off-track’ for a while,” Sutton said. “She has now taken steps to get her life turned in the right direction. The court honored those steps today with the granting of deferred probation.”
Patrick Swanton said Sutton is not telling the truth about his client’s actions that night.
“The length this woman went to hide the weapon caused us to be concerned for the officer’s well-being due to having to come into contact with the suspect’s body fluids,” Swanton said Tuesday. “You see, as officers we face danger in many ways and, as in this case, unconventional forms. If Mr. Sutton thinks this is not possible, he is very inexperienced.
“Mr. Sutton is paid to protect his arrested clients and we understand that. It should, however, not come at the cost of him having to fabricate a defense to save a self-soiled reputation of a defendant. His calling our officer a liar is out of bounds, unacceptable and extremely unprofessional.”
Garcia, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Prosecutors did not pursue the misdemeanor gun charge against Castaneda, court officials said.