PASCO -- A dozen teens and adults have been arrested in a lengthy undercover operation that police say has broken up an "open-air marketplace for selling and consuming narcotics" near Pasco High School.
Several more juveniles are being cited or referred to prosecutors in connection with misdemeanor drug charges, authorities said Friday.
"We want to make sure those things don't happen around our schools. We'll continue to address them as they arise," said Pasco police Capt. Jim Raymond.
None of the drug transactions took place on school grounds, though some of the teens involved are students there, he said.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Police worked for more than a month on the operation in cooperation with the school district, Raymond said.
As of Friday morning, about a dozen people -- including eight juveniles -- had been arrested on suspicion of selling drugs.
Mario A. Perez, 19, and Arnoldo Guzman, 18, both of Pasco, had initial hearings Friday in Franklin County Superior Court.
Perez is being held on suspicion of delivery of oxycontin and two counts of delivery of oxycodone, both felonies.
"These are serious matters," Judge Craig Matheson told Perez.
Court documents allege Perez sold drugs to an undercover officer near North 12th Avenue and West Margaret Street in late January.
Deputy Prosecutor Dave Corkrum requested bail be set at $5,000 because Perez is accused of "making deliveries while attending Pasco High."
But when Perez told the court, "I am not responsible for myself" because of a disability -- later identified by family as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD -- Matheson reduced the bail to $1,000.
Guzman appeared injured and was using a walker in court Friday. He stayed on a courtroom bench next to other jail inmates instead of standing behind the defense table.
Court documents allege he sold marijuana to an undercover officer near 12th and Margaret on Feb. 6. He was released on his personal recognizance.
Prosecutors have until Tuesday afternoon to charge Perez and Guzman. If they're charged they'll have another court appearance March 3.
Officers also searched homes at 1832 W. Park St. and 1714 N. 10th No. A as part of the investigation. The homes were identified as possible sources of some of the narcotics, and officers found marijuana and other drugs inside, Raymond said.
Maria A. Marez, 56, of Pasco, who has ties to the home on 10th Street, has been charged with possessing marijuana with intent to deliver, authorities said.
When police searched her home, they found a Tupperware container with four prepackaged plastic bags of marijuana, court documents said. The marijuana was packaged the same way as pot purchased Feb. 5 by undercover officers from the home, documents said.
Investigators also allegedly seized similar plastic baggies and a scale during the search, and two prescription bottles with the labels removed.
Robert M. Fleming, 19, of Pasco, who's connected to the home on Park Street, was arrested on suspicion of delivery of controlled substances, authorities said. Prosecutors are reviewing reports to determine if charges should be filed against him.
Eight juveniles -- mostly boys between 16 and 17 years old -- were arrested on suspicion of delivering controlled substances, authorities said. Police didn't release their names, but two teens appeared Friday in Juvenile Court.
Alexander Lathim, 16, was ordered held in the Juvenile Detention Center, and Edgar Alonso Arroyos, 17, was released on his personal recognizance.
Lathim's investigative hold is for delivering marijuana, while Arroyos is accused of delivery of oxycodone and delivery of a substance in lieu of a controlled substance, both felonies.
Lathim is the son of Del Lathim, a former elected commissioner for the Franklin Public Utility District and the Port of Pasco.
Prosecutors have until Tuesday afternoon to file charges.
Nine juveniles and one adult also are being cited or referred to prosecutors for misdemeanor drug charges, including having prescription narcotics, having less than 40 grams of marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia.
Raymond said more arrests and citations could be coming as the investigation continues.
Courtney Stenson, spokeswoman for Pasco schools, said the district will keep working with police.
"We support and are appreciative of the work the Pasco Police Department does to make our neighborhoods and students safe," she said.