Crime

Opioids kill a person almost every month in Kennewick. Here are the first charges

A uniformed Kennewick police officer stands outside a house May 17, 2018, at 40 S. Vancouver St. in Kennewick as part of an investigation involving local and federal law enforcement.
A uniformed Kennewick police officer stands outside a house May 17, 2018, at 40 S. Vancouver St. in Kennewick as part of an investigation involving local and federal law enforcement. Tri-City Herald

Two Tri-Cities men are charged federally with giving a Kennewick man the fentanyl pills that killed him.

It’s the first case of its kind in the Tri-Cities to be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Kennewick investigators began partnering with federal officials more than a year ago to investigate all opioid-related overdoses.

Fourteen people have died from opioids overdoses in Kennewick since January 2017, said Kennewick police.

Kennewick police worked with the FBI’s Eastern Washington Violent Gangs Safe Street Task Force to arrest Hector Medina, 36, of Kennewick, and Jubentino Soto, 33, of Pasco.

They were taken into custody after a federal grand jury indicted them on the charge of distribution of fentanyl resulting in a death.

The victim was found unresponsive in his Kennewick home in October and later died. Investigators did not release his name at the request of his family. The indictment identifies him as “R.B.”

Investigators say pills known as “Mexis” — a street name for pills containing fentanyl, a potent and often deadly opioid — caused his death.

Medina and Soto pleaded innocent in U.S. District Court Medina is being held without bail in the Benton County jail. Soto was released pending trial.

If convicted as charged, they face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Medina was ordered to remain in custody after prosecutors successfully argued he has a history of failing to comply with court-imposed conditions

The Los Angeles-born defendant has lived in the Mid-Columbia for 10 years and has a girlfriend, as well as four children, for whom he is a caregiver.

According to prosecutors, Medina’s history includes using aliases and providing false information to police and a long list of convictions related to drugs, guns, domestic assault and driving drunk.

His trial is set for July 23.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514
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