A Richland man has been ordered held on $7,500 bail after he was caught allegedly driving around with 6 1/2 pounds of marijuana packed into Mason jars and plastic baggies.
Dennis W. Vandyken, 37, pleaded innocent recently in Benton County Superior Court to possession with intent to manufacture or deliver marijuana and possession of methamphetamine.
His trial is set for June 6.
Judge Alex Ekstrom agreed to reduce the bail “somewhat” from the recommended $10,000 after a defense attorney said Vandyken lives and works in the Tri-Cities, takes the charge very seriously and promises to appear at all future hearings.
According to court documents, Kennewick police Officer Liz Grant was patrolling Olympia Street at 12:52 a.m. March 23 when she saw a Nissan Maxima drive out from behind a closed business.
Grant knew that the business had recently been sold, so there should not have been any nighttime traffic.
The officer noticed that the Nissan had a defective rear light and, after quickly exiting the parking lot, it proceeded to make several turns in an apparent attempt to lose the patrol car, documents said.
Grant stopped the Nissan, which reportedly pulled into the back of a darkened parking lot. The passenger covered his face and refused to look at Grant as she talked to the driver, court documents said.
The driver denied having identification, registration or insurance with him in the car, and gave Grant a name and birth date that turned out to be false, documents said.
Grant noted that the driver allegedly was sweating and shaking despite the late-night cool temperatures.
Vandyken then admitted having a current driver’s license, and said he lied about it because he had an arrest warrant out of Walla Walla, court documents show. Police found a wallet in the pocket of Vandyken’s pants when they searched him after his arrest, and were able to confirm his identification.
Grant then looked through the windows of the Nissan and saw jars with what appeared to be marijuana in excess of 1 ounce, which is the legal limit for personal possession in Washington, documents said.
Vandyken allegedly told police he bought “a little bit” of marijuana that night and said he didn’t have a medical marijuana card, but he made no other incriminating statements, documents said.
After getting a search warrant for the car, Kennewick detectives found 12 Mason jars and seven baggies, all reportedly containing pot. Some of the jars held large, thick buds and were labeled with a specific strain.
Investigators also allegedly recovered a substance that tested positive for meth, a glass pipe and a spoon with residue, brass knuckles, a box of freezer bags and other drug paraphernalia.
Vandyken has a 2012 felony conviction for possession of controlled substances.