Lindsay arrest reminds locals that pot is legal, spice is not

Synthetic marijuana is still completely illegal, more dangerous than its natural counterpart


LINDSAY – Just has marijuana is taking its last steps to becoming a legal drug, a dangerous drug mocking its effects continues to surface, most recently in Lindsay.

At 4:39 p.m. on Dec. 30, Lindsay Police officers responded to the Dollar Tree, 258 N. Highway 65, to check on a man asleep in a truck. They arrived to find a 1989 GMC pickup partially parked on the sidewalk just north of the store’s entrance. The driver, 39-year-old Johnny Almaguer of Lindsay, was determined to be under the influence of spice, a synthetic marijuana. Spice is a mix of herbs (shredded plant material) and manmade chemicals mixed to mimic the effects of marijuana but is frequently much stronger and more dangerous than its more natural, legal counterpart. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, many of the chemicals used in spice have been banned by the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, there are many more chemicals which have not yet been identified and there is little understanding of the long-term effects of the drugs. It has led to overdose deaths in ER across the country.

Many dealers sell spice is packets labeled “Not for Human Consumption” and disguised as incense under the names Black Mamba, Bliss, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Genie, K2, Moon Rocks, Skunk, Yucatan Fire, and Zohai. It is often sold as a “natural” drug and therefore harmless, but the combination of dangerous and unknown chemicals often causes unpredictable and, in some cases, deadly reactions.

Almaguer may have been using the drug thinking that it was legal under California marijuana laws instead of drinking alcohol, because his license was suspended and he was required to have an ignition interlock device on his vehicle. And while Proposition 64 did legalize marijuana for recreational use, it cannot be smoked or consumed in public and new laws ban you from driving while under the influence of marijuana.

Almaguer was taken into police custody without incident. He was transported to Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville for a legal blood draw and later booked at the Porterville Sub-Station.

Lindsay Police Log

Thursday, Dec. 28
At 9:52 a.m. in the 200 block N. Orangewood, an officer spotted a 2001 Mercedes Benz reported stolen out of Kern County. While waiting for officers to set up around the residence, another vehicle arrived and the driver attempted to enter the residence. During a search of the home, officers detained seven subjects. Those arrested were: Eric Daniel Cortez, 39, of Delano, for possession of the stolen vehicle; Albert Garza, 47, of Lindsay, who was found hiding under a blanket inside the residence, for possession of approximately 6.86 grams of methamphetamine and a digital scale; Sarah Wycoff, 37, of Lindsay, for an active warrant for possession of methamphetamine with a bail of $10,000. At 3:31 p.m. that same day, officers returned to the home regarding a firearm. Upon his return, the investigating sergeant located a loaded Smith and Wesson .357 magnum revolver and an additional 7.38 grams of methamphetamine. Garza was charged with these additional crimes. The sergeant and officers then contacted Maria Magana, 33, of Lindsay, who had an active felony warrant for identity theft with a bail of $35,000.

Friday, Dec. 29
At 1:20 p.m. in the 700 block of N. Laurel, an officer attempted to contact 26-year-old Gabriel Lopez and 20-year-old Victoria Murillo who both had several active misdemeanor warrants issued for their arrest. Lopez attempted to flee on foot and was detained after a short pursuit. Murillo was taken into custody without incident. Lopez was also found to be in possession of stolen property belonging to the residents in the 700 block N. Laurel. Sheriff’s deputies later responded to the Laurel address and determined forced entry was made and took over the investigation. Murillo was cited and released on her warrant and Lopez was booked into the Porterville Sub Station.

At 10 p.m. at Sweet Brier Ave. and Honolulu St., officers stopped a maroon 2004 Chevy Silverado. The registration tabs were found to be expired from 2014. The driver, 39-year-old Alejandro De Jesus Cardenas-Verduzco of Strathmore, was found to be unlicensed and in possession of marijuana over 28 grams, four times the legal limit. Cardenas-Verduzco was also found to have an outstanding warrant for his arrest from Santa Clara PD for being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. He was medically cleared at Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville, prior to being booked at the Porterville Sub-Station for the out of county arrest warrant. Cardenas-Verduzco was cited and released on the fresh charges on a signed promise to appear in court.

Sunday, Dec. 31
At 8:35 p.m., officers responded to a report of domestic violence at a confidential address. The female victim advised that she had been physically assaulted by her husband 60-year-old Jose Rincan-Salinas. She told officers that her husband threw her to the ground, choked her, and continued to knee her in her ribs. The wife said she attempted to use her cell-phone to call for help, but Rincan-Salinas would not let her. He was arrested without incident and booked at the Porterville Sub-Station.

Monday, Jan. 1
At 6 p.m. near the area of Tulare Road and Strathmore Avenue, officers contacted 22-year-old Greg Albright and 21-year-old Tyler Watson, both of Lindsay, who were found to have an open container of liquor. Albright also had an “ICE-Special Agent” novelty badge on his possession.  Both were arrested and later cited and released on signed promise to appear in court.

Tuesday, Jan. 2
At 10:04 a.m. in the area of Hermosa and Oxford, officers responded to a medical aid regarding a possible broken leg. The officers and paramedics were unable to locate a patient or the caller. The subject called back and advised he had been assaulted, but did not know where he was located and hung up the phone. Dispatch was able to get the subject back on the line, and his GPS provided a location of Honolulu and Stanford. Officers found Rafael Ibarra Magana, 26, of Lindsay, who was not injured but rather extremely intoxicated. Magana was arrested and transported to Sierra View Medical Center for treatment. He was later booked at the Porterville Substation.

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