Man Faces Tampering Charge After Allegedly Swallowing Meth Packets

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A Hermiston man was arrested and jailed following a 36-hour stay in the hospital after he allegedly swallowed 10 grams of methamphetamine.

According to the Hermiston Police Department, Matthew Santiago Gilbert, 36, was questioned by both Hermiston and Umatilla police officers just before 9 p.m. on Friday, March 22. Gilbert was stopped in the 1300 block of N. First Street and questioned about an alleged theft that took place in Umatilla.

Matthew Santiago Gilbert

Lt. Randy Studebaker of the HPD said that while officers were questioning Gilbert, it was discovered he had two unrelated warrants out for his arrest, both for failing to appear in court. Studebaker said the officers arrested Gilbert without incident.

While being processed, however, Gilbert told officers he had swallowed about 10 grams of packaged meth in order to avoid getting caught and charged with possession. Gilbert told the officers he swallowed the meth just prior to being stopped by the police.

Studebaker said officers immediately called paramedics who took Gilbert to Good Shepherd Medical Center where he remained for around 36 hours.

Upon his discharge from the hospital, he was lodged in the Umatilla County Jail on the prior warrants and also charged with tampering with physical evidence for allegedly swallowing the meth.

Studebaker said it is not uncommon for officers to have to spend hours or days at the hospital guarding a prisoner who may be trying to avoid jail with either a self-induced or fictitious medical condition.

“These situations are frustrating,” he said. “They’re a total waste of limited EMS, hospital, and police resources on people who are sometimes playing games in an effort to avoid the consequences of their own actions.

“We have an obligation to care for people who are in our custody, and we will absolutely continue to do so, but we can’t allow situations like this to be used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card.”

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