DEA takes 48,000 suspected fentanyl pills, 20 pounds of meth off Tri-Cities streets

Man sentenced for helping Kennewick dad get fentanyl-laced pills that killed him

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — More than 48,000 suspected fentanyl-laced pills and 20 pounds of methamphetamine were taken off the streets of Tri-Cities during a massive drug bust in April.

In February, the US Drug Enforcement Agency launched a drug trafficking investigation into Daniel James Hernandez and Jesus Mendoza.

According to court documents obtained by KAPP-KVEW:

Between February and April 27, undercover DEA agents purchased about seven pounds of meth and 440 suspected fentanyl-laced pills from these men through five “controlled buys.”

During the investigation, special agents identified two potential drug stash houses — one in the 2000 block of S. Rainier Pl. in Kennewick and another the 6200 block of Leicester Ln. in Pasco, where Hernandez and Mendoza were believed to be staying.

Mendoza was already on federal supervision for a meth dealing conviction during the course of this investigation, and his probation officer was not familiar with either address, which led the DEA to believe he was trying to hide illicit drug activity.

On April 8, the DEA served a federal search warrant at the Kennewick house. Inside, they found 19,000 suspected fentanyl-laced pills, eight pounds of crystal meth, half a gallon of liquid meth, three ounces of heroin and $4,500 cash. The drugs were hidden in the washer, dryer, freezer and other places within the kitchen.

The sole occupant of the home, Jesus Bartolo Zavala-Alvarez, was arrested for his alleged role in the case.

About two weeks after the raid, the DEA applied for warrants to search the Pasco house and two cars believed to have been used to commit drug crimes.

On April 27, agents raided the home on Leicester Lane and found 3,750 suspected fentanyl-laced pills, 66 grams of heroin, four firearms and about $30,000 cash. They also found a digital money counter, multiple cell phones and a vacuum sealer believed to be used for packaging large quantities of drugs. Agents only seized a cell phone from one of the two cars they searched.

Both Hernandez and Mendoza inside the home during the raid. They were read their Miranda rights and taken into custody once drugs were located.

Following the arrests, DEA agents told the suspects that investigators were on their way to a home on North Owen Avenue in Pasco that had been linked to them. Once this address was mentioned, Hernandez advised that it was his parents’ home, and that drugs were being stored in the sink of an RV trailer behind it.

Hernandez said both he and his parents had keys to the trailer, but that the drugs were solely his.

Following a search of the trailer, agents found 25,000 suspected fentanyl-laced pills, five pounds of crystal meth and three firearms.

Hernandez and Mendoza are now facing federal drug trafficking charges including conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.