It was the Methomy in the salsa: Kansas couple charged in mass poisonings

A couple who were upset at the owner of a Mexican restaurant were charged today with deliberately sickening dozens of patrons by spiking the salsa with an insecticide.

The Capital-Journal of Topeka (Kansas) reports today that Arnoldo Bazan, 30, and his wife  Yini De La Torre, 19, both of Shawnee (Kansas) and both in clear violation of the half-your-age-plus-7-rule for relationships, have been charged with mixing Methomyl into salsa served to patrons at Mi Ranchito restaurant in Lenexa (Kansas),.

That’s good for one count of conspiring to recklessly endanger other people by conspiring to tamper with a consumer product and two counts of tampering with a consumer product.

U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch explained Thursday that Bazan was employed at a Mi Ranchito restaurant in Olathe until June 27. De La Torre was employed at the Mi Ranchito in Lenexa until Aug. 30.

The indictment alleges Bazan perceived the owner of Mi Ranchito restaurants was responsible for Bazan losing his job and his vehicle. Bazan and De La Torre devised a plan to use a Methomyl-based pesticide to poison patrons of the restaurant in hopes the owner of Mi Ranchito would be blamed and suffer financial harm.

In July, Bazan followed the owner of the Mi Ranchito restaurant, Welch said. An anonymous notice was sent to the Mi Ranchito Web site threatening harm if Bazan’s vehicle wasn’t returned. On Aug. 10, De La Torre is accused of placing Methomyl into the salsa at the Mi Ranchito restaurant in Lenexa. On Aug. 11, 12 patrons immediately suffered nausea, abdominal cramps, weakness, sweating and discomfort.

On Aug. 28, Arnoldo Bazan sent word to the owner of Mi Ranchito by way of another person that "the worst" was yet to come, Welch said. On Aug. 30, De La Torre again placed Methomyl into salsa at the Mi Ranchito restaurant in Lenexa. On that day, 36 patrons immediately suffered nausea, abdominal cramps, weakness, sweating and chest discomfort.

On Sept. 8, Bazan reportedly told De La Torre not to speak with law enforcement investigators or she would suffer physical harm.

Welch said the following agencies took part in the investigation: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Lenexa Police Department, the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Johnson County Health Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Rask is prosecuting.