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Rico’s Groceries owner plea hearing popstponed


Bend police talked Wednesday about an issue related to the arrest by drug agents of Rico’s Groceries and Rico’s Tacos owner Antonio Rico-Sanchez: SNAP card trafficking

The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) Team arrested Rico-Sanchez on Feb. 24 on drug charges after a year-long investigation. His plea entry on Thursday was postponed until April 30, at the request of defense attorney Jon Springer.

Police say he was selling meth out of his storefront on Third Street in Bend. One of the ways he was dealing, police say was through SNAP trafficking.

Police Capt. Paul Kansky said Rico-Sanchez would use food stamp cards, or SNAP cards, in two different ways. He would buy $200 worth of pretend goods from his store and give customers $100 worth of meth. Or, they say, he would use customers’ SNAP cards and buy goods for himself — and give them meth in return.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors SNAP trafficking. A study released two years ago said that in 2011, $858 million was stolen from the SNAP program and that 10.5 percent of authorized stores were to blame.

“You know, we see it occasionally. I would say this is one of the more significant uses — or abuses, I should say,” Kansky said.

This is not the first time Rico-Sanchez’s name has been connected with meth.

“In 2011, there was a search warrant from the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team,” Kansky said.

Rico-Sanchez spent time in jail and was released in 2013. Kansky says soon after, the CODE Team began their most recent investigation. In the past six months, police seized almost three pounds of meth allegedly involving Rico-Sanchez.

“He was dealing substantial quantities into the community,” Kansky said.

Police tell NewsChannel 21 that two pounds of meth is worth about $34,000 and can get a little over 3,500 people high.

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