MOSES LAKE — After a mid-July region-wide drug raid conducted by numerous federal, state and local agencies, 15 people were arrested on suspicion of criminal conspiracy to distribute narcotics in connection with street gang Eastside Familia Norteño. Of the 15, only one remains free, according to court records.
The lone man out, Jesse Leon Manion Jr., 55, of Moses Lake spent the weekend in Oregon after being allowed by a U.S. District Court judge to remain free pending trial, despite the appearance of substantial evidence against him, according to the records. While Manion is not accused of distributing drugs himself, he is accused of “allowing the actual distributors to secrete drugs and guns in his residence.”
“The evidence against Mr. Manion appears to be substantial, including pounds of methamphetamine, 18 firearms, and certain post-arrest statements,” the court wrote, in denying a motion by federal prosecutors to detain Manion.
In finding that Manion should not be detained, the court considered his continuous employment, ties to his community and family. The court noted that Manion’s employer, a construction firm he has worked with for a number of years, is supportive of Manion returning to work.
Weighing against Manion’s release was his self-reported decades of methamphetamine abuse, a record of misdemeanors — the most recent being 19 years ago — and two occasions when Manion did not appear for a court hearing. However, the court ruled that these factors did not establish that Manion would be a flight risk or a threat to the community.
Manion’s release is conditional on him remaining lawfully employed and within the Eastern District of Washington while the case is pending, unless a motion to travel is approved.
Manion did submit one such motion for travel, though that motion was not publicly available. Both staff for the U.S. District Court responsible for the case and a federal prosecutor declined to clarify why the document was being withheld. The federal indictment for Manion and the other 14 arrested was also apparently under seal.
Though Manion’s motion was not publicly available, the judge’s approval was, which showed that Manion requested to travel to Dallas, Oregon from July 25 to July 28.