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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Yakima police arrest Sunnyside man after finding 2,000 fentanyl pills in his pocket

By Donald W. Meyers Yakima Herald-Republic

A Sunnyside man is being held in the Yakima County jail after Yakima police found him with about 2,000 fentanyl pills they say he was going to sell.

Police found the 43-year-old man slumped over in a car parked at the Motel 6, 1010 Staff Sgt. Pendleton Way, around 12:10 a.m. Friday. Officers saw burnt foil in the car, which they said is used in taking or smoking certain drugs, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The man woke up after officers knocked on his car window and the man identified himself and said he didn’t need medical help, the affidavit said. Police found a domestic violence warrant in the man’s name and detained him, the affidavit said.

When he was placed under arrest, police found two sandwich-sized bags with a total of roughly 2,000 blue pills, which police said contained fentanyl, the affidavit said, as well as $1,164 in several denominations they said indicated the man was selling the drugs.

After placing him in the police car, officers found that the warrant was for the man’s father, with whom he shared a name, but he was booked into the Yakima County jail on suspicion of possessing fentanyl with the intent to deliver it based on his possessing the pills.

After missing preliminary appearance hearings Friday and Monday due to illness, the man appeared via Zoom from his jail cell in Yakima County Superior Court Tuesday. At that hearing, Deputy Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney David Soukup asked that the man’s initial $50,000 bail be increased to $100,000, citing the man’s prior criminal convictions, his being a documented gang member and possessing fentanyl.

The man interrupted Soukup, saying he was no longer a gang member.

Defense attorney Beth Wehrkamp argued that the bail should remain where it was initially set.

Yakima County Superior Court Judge Richard Bartheld said the man was not a candidate for pretrial release, based on his criminal history and the allegations against him, and said he would keep the bail set at $50,000. He said the number of fentanyl pills the man had could have resulted in many overdose deaths if they had been sold.

“It was just for myself,” the man told Bartheld.

“We look at it differently,” Bartheld said.