Rogue Valley News, Thursday, Feb. 20 – Police Net Two Large Drug Busts This Week in the Valley


Rogue Valley Weather

Mostly sunny, with a high near 62.

Sunny, with a high near 60.

Mostly sunny, with a high near 59.

A 50% chance of showers after some patchy morning fog. Snow level 4100 feet rising to 5300 feet in the afternoon. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 57.

Slight chance of rain. High of 57.

Today’s Headlines

According to Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement (MADGE), the confiscation and seizure of  nearly 30 pounds of methamphetamine have taken place between two traffic stops within the past week, according to Medford Police.

Investigators with MADGE had been working on a drug trafficking ring suspected of smuggling meth into the Rogue Valley.   Detectives identified a vehicle they believed was involved — a 2015 Nissan Rogue registered in California.

Detectives began to talk with two people in the car, identified as 36-year-old Christian Olivarria-Aguirre and 35-year-old Jacqueline Castillo.   Aguirre and Castillo were arrested and lodged in jail on $500,000 bail.

On Tuesday, MADGE detectives were working on a “different drug trafficking organization” from California. They spotted a 2020 GMC SUV heading northbound on I-5 until they saw the driver commit traffic violations, Medford Police said.

Officers pulled over the vehicle south of Ashland with 59-year-old Ernesto Vela of California behind the wheel, who reportedly consented to a search. Detectives found 10 pounds of meth inside the car.

In both cases, detectives believed the drugs were destined for the Rogue Valley say Medford Police.

Grants Pass Department of Public Safety has reported that a report of a school school on Tuesday morning was actually a hoax and distraction while police were on a car chase in the area. 

Because of that, a teenager is now facing charges of disorderly conduct and improper use of 911.  That woman is 18-year old Breanna Owens-Smith. 

Josephine County Sheriff’s deputies were pursuing a car driven by 28-year-old, Joseph Botello, who was behind the wheel while Owens-Smith, was in the passenger seat.

Officers in the area began moving toward Grants Pass High School on 9th, where no incident was taking place.  Police responded in a heavy presence as a precaution and also sent officers to other schools. Upon further investigation, the police found no threat at the campus and determined it was a hoax and will be dealing accordingly with the person who called in.

The Botello car chase started south of Grants Pass on Rogue River Highway and Carnahan Dr. and ended on Riverbanks Road in Merlin.

Botello is in jail facing some 19 charges including assault, robbery, and criminal mischief.

A Medford restaurant violated federal law by allowing its former manager to repeatedly sexually harass young female employees, letting one worker go after she re­ported the illegal conduct, and creating conditions so intolerable that another worker quit involunt­arily, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, even after the manager at New China was arrested at work and booked for sexual abuse of the restaurant’s minor employee, he was permitted to return to work. The EEOC alleges that the manager, who was in his 50s and mostly worked the night shift, repeatedly targeted young female employees with sexual comments and inappropriate touching that escalated from unwanted hugs to groping.

In one case, the manager asked a 15-year-old employee to text him nude pictures of herself. Despite repeated employee complaints and the manager’s guilty plea to misdemeanor harassment, the restaurant failed to stop his behavior or discharge him. Instead, New China fired one female employee soon after she reported his inappropriate conduct and another female employee felt she had no choice but to resign, the EEOC says.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. New China, Inc. in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Medford Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks mone­tary damages for the female workers and other relief to remedy sexual harassment and prevent it from recurring.

The agency is attempting to reach all female employees who were victims of harassment or anyone who witnessed the harassment at New China. They are encouraged to contact the EEOC at 1-833-779-3986 or through email:

“These young women ranged in age from 15 to 20 years old and were entering the workforce for the first time,” said EEOC Seattle Field Office Director Nancy Sienko. “No worker should have to face what they did. It took a great deal of courage for these young women to report the harassment internally as well as to the EEOC.”

Around the state

As Department of Revenue representatives prepare for Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) update meetings in 13 cities across Oregon in March, the agency reminds businesses that that they have 30 days after eclipsing $750,000 in commercial activity for the year to register for the CAT.

Businesses that passed the $750,000 threshold in late January will need to register with the department by the end of February.

“Our CAT team will personally engage our taxpaying communities in March to provide important compliance information. Before those meetings, however, we want to remind businesses who have reached the threshold that the first step of compliance is registration,” said Nia Ray, director of the Oregon Department of Revenue.

Meetings on the March tour are planned in Bend, Ontario, La Grande, The Dalles, Klamath Falls, Ashland, Eugene, Gresham, Coos Bay, Lincoln City, Seaside, Keizer and the west side of the Portland metro area. The full schedule is available on the CAT page of the agency’s website.

More than 6,100 businesses have already registered for the CAT. During the 2019 session the Legislative Revenue Office predicted approximately 40,000 businesses would have to pay taxes under the CAT, which went into effect Jan. 1.

To register, individuals doing business in Oregon will need their name, and their social security number or individual taxpayer identification number. Businesses will need their entity’s legal name and federal employer identification number.
Businesses and individuals will need:
• Their mailing address;
• The date they exceeded or expect to exceed $750,000 in Oregon commercial activity;
• A valid email address or current Revenue Online login, and;
• Their Business Activity Code (Refer to the current list of North American Industry Classification System codes found with their federal income tax return instructions.)
Taxpayers don’t need a Revenue Online account to register for the CAT. Those who have Revenue Online accounts can’t be logged in to register for the CAT. Instead, they should go directly to the CAT webpage and click on the “Register for the CAT” link on the right-hand side of the page.

The ability to make online payments and apply for ACH credit are now also available through Revenue Online.

CAT registrants who want to make ACH payments must submit an ACH credit application for the Corporate Activity Tax (CAT). The application is available on the department’s website through Revenue Online by scrolling down to “Tools” and clicking “apply for ACH credit.”

Once their application is completed, taxpayers will receive a confirmation providing the routing and account number. Taxpayers should not use account numbers from other tax programs. First quarter estimated payments for the CAT are due April 30.

More information about the Corporate Activity Tax is available on the Department of Revenue’s website at It includes a list of frequently asked questions and a form to sign-up for email updates on the CAT. Stakeholders can direct questions or comments about the CAT via email to or call 503-945-8005.

Visit to get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments; call 800-356-4222 toll-free from an Oregon prefix (English or Spanish); 503-378-4988 in Salem and outside Oregon; or email For TTY (hearing or speech impaired), call 800-886-7204.

A fifth person has been charged in the connection with a November murder-for-hire and appeared in court yesterday afternoon.   Kim Curtis Oelke of Klamath Falls was arrested Tuesday for charges of abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

According to court documents, Oelke helped move Pedro Padilla’s body and submerge it in a pond at the 1500 block of Cross Road. He is being held at the Klamath County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. Other suspects charged in connection with the murder are Tori Hill, Corey Agard, Joshua Holloway and Julie Davis.

Hill allegedly paid Agard $10,000 to shoot and kill Padilla in a Merrill home. According to court documents, Agard, Holloway, Davis and Oelke then removed Padilla’s body and submerged it. The group also allegedly removed evidence, including blood and discharge of a firearm from the crime scene.  Agard is charged with two counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, unlawful use of a weapon, felon in possession of a firearm, abuse of a corpse and three counts of tampering with evidence.  

Hill is charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, abuse of a corpse and two counts of tampering with evidence. Holloway is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Davis is charged with abuse of a corpse and two counts of tampering with evidence.

It’s called Oregon House bill 4065 and has been introduced this week to prevent judges from suspending a person’s driver’s license over unpaid traffic fines has passed by the Oregon House and now goes before the Senate.

The bill Tuesday 42-16 with bipartisan support.  It now goes to the Senate, which referred the bill to the Committee on Judiciary.   Another hearing for it is scheduled today. 

House bill 4065 “removes authority of courts to impose driving privilege suspensions for failure to pay traffic-related fines or comply with requirements ordered in lieu of fines,” according to a summary by staff of the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

The state Legislative Revenue Office says 20% of traffic violation cases result in one or more license suspension for failure to pay.   In 2019, courts suspended about 28,000 driver’s licenses in Oregon for failure to pay, according to the report.

The father and therapist of a man killed by a Eugene police officer five years ago took the stand Tuesday during a federal wrongful-death case, opening a trial that questions whether that officer was justified in shooting the PTSD-afflicted veteran in his doorway.

Will Stutesman fatally shot Brian Babb, 49, from the turret of an armored vehicle. Stutesman has said Babbs aimed a rifle at him.

The Lane County District Attorney ruled Stutesman acted in self defense and was not criminally liable, but the Babb family is seeking damages because they believe the scene was altered to make Babb appear dangerous.

Back to the Homepage

Must Read

Rogue Valley News, Monday 9/20 – Public Asked for Help in Case of Another Missing Woman in Southern Oregon, OSP Requesting Assistance with Fatal Hit and Run Crash in Talent

Renee Shaw

Holiday Season – DUII Enforcement Operations

Brian Casey

Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 2/16 – Southern Oregon Activist Group Started A Pop-Up Warming Center in Medford, More than 5000 Downed Power Lines/Still Thousands Without Power in Oregon and Lots of Damage

Renee Shaw