Lancaster County drug suspect caught trying to flee country
MANHEIM TWP., Pa. – One of two fugitive drug suspects wanted by police in Lancaster County is caught attempting to flee the country. Rafael Sarmiento-Sanchez, 38, who lived at 2808 Pebblebrook Drive, in Manheim Township was arrested on Monday June 8, as he attempted to cross the U.S.-Canadian border on the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York.
Sarmiento-Sanchez along with Wendy Tejada, 36, 2803 Pebblebrook Drive, Lancaster and Oscar Miguel Lopez Garrido, 32, 118 Summer Lane, Lititz, were charged last month after police discovered marijuana growing operations at their homes.
On May 7, detectives from the Lancaster County Drug Task Force along with officers from the Manheim Township Police Department Selective Enforcement Unit executed search warrants at the two Manheim Township homes. Both residences and their occupants were believed to be involved in a large indoor grow of marijuana.
The first home raided, 2808 Pebblebrook Drive, was occupied by Sarmiento-Sanchez and Tejada. Several documents were located that tied both suspects to the second residence at 118 Summer Lane. When the search warrant was executed on the Summer Lane location, nobody was inside, but a large, elaborate indoor marijuana grow room was located in the lower level of the split-level home.
The entire floor of the home had been converted to a grow room, with air-conditioners placed in the dry-wall covered walls and industrial exhaust fans running continuously. Eighteen large marijuana plants were growing in the garage of the home that was accessed through the lower floor. The garage had been outfitted with ultra-violet lighting connected to timers, CO2 generators, as well as a sophisticated irrigation system. The lights were serviced by 20 electrical ballasts that had to be disconnected by PPL officials for the safety of the officers, prior to a detailed search. Another room and closets in the lower level contained more lighting, irrigation equipment, and bags of soil and chemicals used to grow the marijuana plants. Two bedrooms on the upper level of the home also contained only equipment to be used in the grow room. In addition to the plants and grow equipment, officers also seized over 80 grams of harvested marijuana and documents related to the homes on Pebblebrook Drive home as well as the 118 Summer Lane and the three suspects.
The marijuana plants that were seized have the potential to produce approximately $1000.00 worth of marijuana per harvest. Each plant could produce multiple harvests depending on the level of maintenance and care of the plants. DTF detectives believe that the plants were being cared for in a manner in which each plant could be harvested multiple times.
All three suspects were charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver, Manufacturing Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Criminal Conspiracy.
Wendy Tejada was arraigned and released on $100,000 unsecured bail. Warrants were issued for Oscar Miguel Lopez Garrido and Rafael Sarmiento-Sanchez. Detectives received information on May that both men had fled Pennsylvania and may attempt to return to their native Cuba.
Sarmiento-Sanchez is being held pending an extradition hearing before his return to Lancaster County. Garrido has not been located.