Police, CODE locate, arrest fugitive
A fugitive wanted on kidnapping, robbery and drug charges, Omar Agustine Benitez, 37, was arrested Nov. 29, at a residence on Northwest Lee Street in Madras, after nearly three months on the run.
Police had been searching for Benitez since Sept. 10, when he allegedly kidnapped and threatened to kill his former domestic partner, a 25-year-old female, in front of their 1-year-old son.
Benitez reportedly brandished a gun and made her drive to an area west of Madras, where he forcibly removed her from the vehicle and drove toward her in the vehicle, bumping her with the vehicle, and then trying to force her over a 300-foot cliff.
The woman jumped out of the way, at about the same time that another vehicle came down the hill, and Benitez drove away with their son. The passing motorist took her to the Pelton boat launch where she was able to call 911.
Benitez took the child to the woman's mother's house, told the mother that she would find her daughter at the "Warm Springs viewpoint," and left the child with her and a cracker box, which was later found to contain two baggies of methamphetamine, on the porch.
A week later, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office received information that Benitez was at a residence on Southwest Madison Street. Deputies obtained a search warrant and executed the warrant on Sept. 17, with the help of the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team, but he was not located. On Sept. 19, the sheriff's office and Madras Police Department issued a press release asking the public to be on the lookout for Benitez.
With new information about Benitez, on Friday, Oct. 6, police again went after him, in a chase in and around Willow Creek Canyon. Benitez fled across the Willow Creek train trestle just before dark, and the JCSO contacted Burlington Northern to ensure that a train that was expected from the north did not cross. Law enforcement officers followed Benitez across the trestle, but lost track of him as it got darker.
Benitez was also wanted in connection with a drug trafficking investigation which had been initiated in 2016 by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Twelve people were arrested on Sept. 27, and a federal indictment was issued for Benitez.
Late in November, the CODE team learned that Benitez had been seen at the residence on Northwest Lee Street in Madras, and began surveillance, with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals' Service and Oregon State Police SWAT team.
On Nov. 29, they spotted Benitez entering a garage on the property, and surrounded the garage, asking Benitez to surrender. Benitez came out and was arrested at 1:55 p.m. Ruby Pacheco, 25, of Madras, exited the motorhome and was also arrested on a charge of hindering prosecution.
The CODE team obtained a search warrant for the residence, and executed the warrant at 6:45 p.m., finding commercial quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine, digital scales, packaging material, currency and 14 firearms, including seven rifles and seven handguns, one of which had been reported stolen from Deschutes County. As a convicted felony, Benitez was unable to legally possess a firearm.
Both Benitez and Pacheco were arrested and lodged in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.
Benitez faces a federal charge for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and Jefferson County Circuit Court charges of first-degree kidnapping and robbery, unlawful use of a weapon, fourth-degree assault, menacing, recklessly endangering another, harassment, possession, manufacture and delivery of methamphetamine and cocaine, 14 counts of felon in possession of a firearm, and first-degree theft by receiving for the stolen firearm.
He was arraigned in the Jefferson County Circuit Court Dec. 5, and security was set at $550,000.