Ontario  — The 16 individuals identified by police after a nearly year-long, multi-organization investigation were arraigned at Malheur County Circuit Court Tuesday. 

All but one of the suspects arrived for the arraignment to face indictment charges, which included a class A felony racketeering charge for all of the individuals. 

While everyone who attended received the racketing charge, several of the suspects received additional charges including the delivery, possession and manufacturing of marijuana, Erin Landis, Malheur County deputy district attorney, said. 

A warrant was issued for the arrest of the one individual who did not show up for the arraignment, and the rest of the suspects were allowed to leave on their own recognizance, Landis said. 

Landis said some restrictions were placed on the suspects, including no contact with each other, with the exception of married couples and relatives. 

At the heart of the investigation is the now-closed The 45th Parallel, 1343 S.W. 30th St., owned by William J. Esbensen, 46, Boise, one of the primary suspects in the case. 

In addition to Esbensen, Raymond Kangas, 49, Ontario; Kerry Rhoan, 54, Nampa; Mark M. Young, 57, Adrian; Kelly Rhoan, 54, Nampa; Eric Winn, 32, Ontario; Tricia Gardner, 35, Ontario; Jonathan Turner, 35, Ontario; Mitchell Rowland, 42, Ontario; Julie Ann Lynn Malone, 30, Nampa; Brian Taylor, 32, Nyssa; Ann K. Swallow, 63, Adrian; Emily Banks, 26, Ontario; and Jesse J. Banks, 36, Ontario, have been charged in the case.

A pre-trial date is currently being scheduled for mid to late December, Landis said. 

All individuals and their suspected criminal activities stem from an investigation that included efforts from the Malheur County Sheriff's Office, Oregon and Idaho state police agencies and multiple local law enforcement departments including Ontario, Fruitland and Payette.

William Lopez is a news reporter at the Argus Observer. He can be reached at (541) 823-4815 or by emailing willl@argusobserver.com. To comment on this story, go to www.argusobserver.com

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Patients in South-Eastern Oregon now have no access to the medical Cannabis that the laws were passed by the majority of Oregon's citizens voted to allow. Many ill people had a glimmer of hope and a short time of medical relief from their terrible sufferings. Now a dozen or more law enforcement officers stand around drawing their government checks and benefits gloating for the TV cameras and newspaper photographers instead of pursuing real criminals actually harming other citizens like thiefs, rapists, child abusers, murderers, etc. who get a free ride while this photo opp is wasting time and money to puff-up egos. BTW, if people really knew the true situations and suffering of patients visiting these clinics, you might be surprised that just because someone can walk or wheel in and out of a place doesn't mean you don''t have MS, cancer, or severe chronic pain, etc.