Officer takes delivery driver’s place to break up meth deal

WICHITA – Two Wichita men have been charged with drug trafficking after a Wichita police officer posed as a delivery driver at a meeting in which three pounds of methamphetamine were to change hands, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a news release Thursday.

Michael Ortega-Alvarez, 45, Wichita, and Manuel Bencomo-Rodriguez, 47, were charged Wednesday with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. It is alleged Wichita police stopped Ortega-Alvarez for a traffic violation on May 6. They found approximately 3 pounds of methamphetamine in his vehicle. When investigators learned Ortega-Alvarez was on his way to make a delivery to a man he didn’t know, an officer working undercover took his place.

Using Ortega-Alvarez’s phone, the officer received instructions to drive to a convenience store at 31st and Hillside and wait for a man in a blue car. Bencomo-Rodriguez arrived driving a blue Chevrolet Lumina. He led the officer to another location, after which they returned to the convenience store and Bencomo-Rodriguez was arrested.

If convicted, the defendants face a penalty of not less than 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $10 million. The Wichita Police Department investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Jacobs is prosecuting.