BY RUSSELL EDEM
An inmate’s alleged attempt to orchestrate drug deals from within the Barton County Jail helped law enforcement officers confiscate 1.5 pounds of suspected methamphetamine on Tuesday, Sheriff Brian Bellendir said.
The Great Bend Sheriff’s office, Great Bend Police, Ellinwood Police and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants at three locations.
For the last two weeks, the sheriff’s office had received information that an inmate, Reynaldo Verduzco, was orchestrating drug deals from the inmate pay phone system. Detective David Paden continued to monitor the calls and develop information.
All calls from inmates at the county jail are recorded and a warning is given to both parties about the recording of the call, Bellendir said.
It is not certain what Verduzco’s plans were, but it is suspected that he was trying to get money to help with personal finances and other related issues.
“He could have people putting money on his books here at the jail, or paying of debts, or support for his family,” Bellendir said.
Local police departments were contacted due to the fact the sheriff believed deliveries would take place in their respective cities. The U.S. Postal Service was also contacted and assisted in the investigation. The search warrants were executed at 515 Bismarck, Apartment 11, in Ellinwood, 2300 Franklin St. in Great Bend, and 714 Stone St. in Great Bend.
In total, 1.5 pounds of methamphetamine were seized at the three locations. The estimated street value of the drugs are in the excess of $50,000, and several arrests were made in conjunction with the search warrant.
Ashley Mendivil, age 26, of Great Bend, was arrested for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Joshua Hoffner, 32, of Great Bend, is charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and he was arrested on a parole violation. Both remained in jail in lieu of $500,000 bond.
Verduzco, who was already a resident of the county jail, was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and use of a communication device in the furtherance of a felony. An additional $500,000 bond has been applied to his previous bonds.
The sheriff’s office and other law enforcement agencies will be continuing this investigation and further arrests are expected.