Three Madras residents, including two suspected illegal immigrants, were arrested behind a Redmond store, accused of methamphetamine trafficking -- and hiding a half-pound of the drug under a boy’s sweatshirt, Central Oregon drug agents said Thursday.
Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team detectives contacted and arrested the two men and a woman in the back parking lot of the Home Depot in Redmond around 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12., after a nearly three-month investigation into meth trafficking throughout Central Oregon by Roberto Delgado Diaz, 37, said Lt. Ken Mannix.
Around 6:30 p.m. that evening, Delgado Diaz, Jose Vargus Muniz, 22, and Santana Leon Covarrubia, 47, along with a 9-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy, were stopped in a 1999 Nissan Maxima at NW Quince Avenue and Highway 97 in Redmond after having driven from Madras, Mannix said.
During the stop, a drug-sniffing dog was deployed and a search of the car was conducted. While the search was under way, the woman and children asked and were allowed to leave, then walked across the highway to Home Depot, Mannix said. The male driver and passenger were allowed to leave, with no action taken at that time.
But an investigation found that just before being pulled over, Vargas Muniz allegedly took about a half-pound meth from his person and put it under the sweatshirt of the boy, who was seated in the back seat, Mannix said.
After walking away from the traffic stop, Mannix said, the boy removed the drugs and hid them in a planter box at Home Depot.
Once allowed to leave, the men drove around the area for about 20 minutes “in an obvious effort to wait for law enforcement to leave the area,” Mannix said in a news release.
They then returned to Home Depot and retrieved the hidden meth, he said – and the suspects were contacted by CODE detectives and arrested immediately afterward. About a half-pound of meth was recovered from the boy’s sweatshirt.
The three remained lodged Thursday in the Deschutes County Jail on charges of meth possession, distribution and manufacturing, first-degree child neglect, coercion and using a minor in a drug offense.
Delgado Diaz and Vargus Muniz were being held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as suspected illegal immigrants.
The state Department of Human Services-Child Welfare was contacted, and the children were placed with other family members, Mannix said.