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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Man Must Stay In Jail Until Trial Suspected Drug Dealer Surrendered After Being Accidentally Released

A man who surrendered after being accidentally released from the Spokane County Jail must remain there until his trial on federal drug charges.

Benny Ray Smith, 27, who has been convicted twice of drug offenses, would pose a danger to the community if released from jail, U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno ruled Friday.

Smith is named in a three-count federal indictment that accuses him of selling and possessing crack cocaine in Spokane.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks said Smith is a confirmed California gang member who’s believed responsible for bringing large amounts of crack cocaine to Spokane.

“He’s absolutely a major dealer,” Hicks said.

Authorities allege that Smith had so much crack cocaine that he was offering it for sale at half-price late last year. He used a pager to arrange sales, officers say.

A police informer bought a quarter-ounce of crack from Smith for $250 at a convenience store at 10th and Maple, Hicks said.

The sale occurred Nov. 11, just four days after Smith pleaded guilty in Spokane County Superior Court to a state drug charge. He was released on bond.

After the alleged purchase, investigators got a state search warrant and found almost a pound of crack cocaine in an apartment at W1130 Eleventh, Hicks said.

Smith completed his state sentence and was released mistakenly on Tuesday from the Spokane County Jail, even though a federal detainer was placed against him.

Jail officials have not fully explained the mix-up.

After he saw his photograph in the newspaper, Smith contacted his attorney, Maryann Moreno, and voluntarily surrendered.

Moreno argued that Smith has always shown up for court and should be released on bond.

Hicks said Smith is both a flight risk and a danger to the community because of his alleged drug dealing.

The magistrate agreed, noting that the federal drug case occurred shortly after Smith pleaded to the state drug charge.

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