Report of hostage leads to illegal pot operation

Sheriff’s deputies uncovered a large marijuana operation after responding to a report of a hostage situation this past Saturday.

A test message just before 11:30 a.m. was sent to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center, stating there was a possible hostage situation at 110 Snipes Canal Road near Sunnyside.

Deputies responded and made contact with three adults outside the home, court records show.

A female renter was among the people, stating she didn’t know about a hostage situation. She called her husband, who was at work, and the pair gave permission for deputies to search the home, records show.

During the search, four people were found inside the home and deputies detained them while finishing the search, records show.

The men included Fernando Magana Mendoza, 46, of Warden, Pascual A. Elias Mendiola, 38, of Yakima and J. Rosario Duarte, 57, of Yakima, records show.

A large amount of what deputies believed to be marijuana and items used for processing, distributing and packaging marijuana were found in the basement of the home, records show.

The discovery prompted a request for a search warrant before the search commenced, records show.

Once granted, the deputies found more packing materials, as well as several guns, records show.

LEAD Task Force was requested to assist in the investigation, and a large outdoor marijuana grow was found. There were 15 mature plants discovered, and another search warrant was obtained to continue the investigation, records show.

Inside a shelter within the growing area, another 200 pounds of processed marijuana was located, some of it ready for distribution, records show.

Magana Mendoza, Elias Mendiola and Duarte were all arrested, as was one other person — Fernando Magana Ochoa.

Magana Ochoa has not yet appeared in Yakima County Superior Court to be charged, but the other three appeared Monday on charges of manufacturing marijuana and possession of a controlled substance-marijuana with intent to deliver.

The trio will be arraigned Sept. 10. They are currently in Yakima County Jail on $10,000 bail each.

Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic said his office requested $25,000 bail, but the pre-trial release system would have had them released and Judge Kevin S. Naught decided against the system recommendation.


Comments are subject to moderator review and may not appear immediately on the site.

Please read our commenting policy before posting.

Any comment violating the site's commenting guidelines will be removed and the user could be banned from the site.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment