In the community

Drug task force arrests three local residents in Ontario raid

ONTARIO – The High Desert Drug Task Force and local police agencies arrested three people Monday, Feb. 26, at the Ontario Inn on drug charges and for outstanding warrants, according to a press release from Ontario Police Chief Mike Iwai.

Austin A. Ash, 34, Ontario, was arrested on several Oregon and Idaho warrants and charges of possession, manufacture and attempted delivery of fentanyl, felon in possession of a firearm and felon in possession of a restricted weapon.

Maricruz Santibanez, 29, and Romelo Loa, 19, both of Ontario, were arrested on Malheur County outstanding warrants. According to court records, Santibanez was wanted for a failure to appear in court on a first-degree criminal mischief charge.

Loa was wanted on three Malheur County warrants, including a felony probation violation, third-degree felony assault and a misdemeanor third-degree escape charge.

According to the press release, the arrests were triggered by a search warrant.

According to the press release, individuals in the room tried to flush their fentanyl supplies and “dealer amounts of fentanyl were still seized along with thousands of dollars in suspected drug proceeds, a loaded handgun, digital scales, drug packaging and other items of commercial level fentanyl dealing evidence.”

The Ontario Police Department and the Oregon State Police also participated in the incident.

“The High Desert Drug Task Force is a vitally important team that will help law enforcement and the criminal justice system in general to clean up our communities and hold folks accountable,” said Iwai.

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