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Gang members accused of rioting at Canyon County Jail

Twelve inmates who were at the Canyon County Jail in Caldwell on June 6 face charges of felony rioting. (Ky Tucker / Idaho Press-Tribune)
Twelve inmates who were at the Canyon County Jail in Caldwell on June 6 face charges of felony rioting. (Ky Tucker / Idaho Press-Tribune)
By Savannah Cardon Idaho Press-Tribune

CALDWELL — A fight that broke out in the Canyon County Jail last month has led to felony rioting charges for 12 alleged gang members.

Although the June 6 incident falls under felony statutes as a riot, Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue said it was fight in a unit between gang members. The fight was between rival gangs Norteños and Sureños.

Donahue said the fight has a lot to do with the jail’s overcrowding.

“It actually underscores the fact that we do not have the necessary space we need to separate rival gang members,” he said.

The fight was not made public earlier because the case went to the Canyon County grand jury, during which information becomes “very confidential,” Donahue said.

Eleven of the 12 indicted on felony rioting charges with gang enhancements were arraigned Monday. One suspect, David Mendoza, 31, of Caldwell, was not in custody when indictments were issued and is wanted on a $100,000 felony warrant.

The other suspects are Agustin Olvera, 31, of Nampa; Matthew Alsip, 29, of Meridian; Manuel Castro, 40, of Parma; Carlos Zamora, 34, of Caldwell; James Steelman, 24, of Boise; David Ramirez, 25, of Notus; George Heidenreich, 44, of Caldwell; John Hernandez, 33, of Middleton; Jose Magdaleno, 22, of Caldwell; Noel Crispin, 23, of Nampa; and David Valdez, 37, of Nampa.

If convicted of felony rioting, each person could face five to 20 years in prison. Gang enhancements carry an additional two to five years.

Eastern Idaho jail riot

Inmates rioted at the Bannock County Jail in Pocatello last week. That sheriff, too, pointed to the jail’s overcrowded conditions.

At a July 12 press conference the day after the riot, Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen blamed tensions among inmates on severe overcrowding, the Idaho State Journal reports.

The unrest lasted for over two hours and included 27 inmates, who damaged the sprinkler system and intentionally flood their cells by stuffing clothing and other objects into the toilets in their cells, according to the State Journal. No injuries were reported.

The riot occurred in the maximum security section of the Bannock County Jail. That section houses about 85 of the jail’s 315 inmates, Nielsen said. The jail was designed to have a maximum capacity of 270 inmates, the State Journal reports.

“Right now we have a correction crisis in our state,” Nielsen said. “The time-bomb is still ticking. And we need some help.”

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