Coercion, child neglect

Three Madras residents were arrested for drug trafficking Dec. 12, in the back parking lot of the Redmond Home Depot following a lengthy investigation.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Roberto Delgado DiazAccording to Lt. Kurt Koester, acting lieutentant for the Bend Police Department, detectives with the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team arrested Roberto Delgado Diaz, 37, Jose D. Muniz Vargas, 22, and Santana Covarrubias, 47, all of Madras, around 8 p.m., after an investigation of nearly three months into the trafficking of methamphetamine in the Central Oregon region.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Jose D. Muniz VargasThe incident began around 6:30 p.m., when the three, who were traveling in a 1999 Nissan Maxima with two children, ages 11 and 9, from Madras to Redmond, were stopped by a marked patrol unit at the intersection of Northwest Quince and U.S. Highway 97 in Redmond.

During the stop, a drug detection dog was deployed and a subsequent search of the vehicle was conducted. While the search was taking place, Covarrubias and the two minor children requested and were allowed to leave the location of the stop and walked across the highway to Home Depot. Shortly thereafter, Delgado-Diaz and Muniz-Vargas were released from the stop location with no action being taken by law enforcement.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Santana CovarrubiasOnce released from the traffic stop, the suspects drove throughout the area for approximately 20 minutes "in an obvious effort to wait for law enforcement to leave the area," the press release noted.

Investigators learned that just prior to being pulled over, Muniz Vargas removed approximately one-half pound of methamphetamine from his person and physically placed it underneath the sweatshirt of the 11-year-old male, who was also seated in the back seat.

After walking away from the stop location, the juvenile male removed the drugs from his person and concealed them in a planter box at Home Depot. When the three adults believed that the police were no longer watching them, they returned to Home Depot and retrieved the methamphetamine from the planter box.

Immediately after retrieving the methamphetamine, they were contacted and arrested by CODE detectives. Approximately one-half pound of methamphetamine was recovered from the sweatshirt of the juvenile male.

Delgado Diaz, Muniz Vargas and Covarrubias were all charged with possession, manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine, first-degree child neglect, coercion and using a minor in a controlled substance offense. All three were lodged at the Deschutes County Correctional Facility. The Department of Human Services-Child Welfare was contacted, and both minor children were placed with family members not associated with the case.

The CODE team is a multijurisdictional narcotics task force supported by the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program and the Bend, Redmond, Madras, Warm Springs, Prineville, Sunriver and Black Butte police departments, the Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook County sheriffs' offices and district attorneys' offices, Oregon State Police, US. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Oregon National Guard.

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