Courts & Crime

Kansas couple charged with poisoning restaurant's salsa

When the pesticide methomyl is sprayed on crops, farm workers aren't supposed to step back into the fields for up to a week.

It’s dangerous, potentially deadly stuff and, according to federal prosecutors, it is the poison a Shawnee couple chose to exact revenge against one of the owners of the Mi Ranchito restaurant in Lenexa.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors accused former restaurant employees Arnoldo Bazan and his wife, Yini De La Torre — niece of the restaurant co-founder — of mixing the pesticide into salsa Aug. 30 and sending at least a dozen people to the hospital.

Bazan, 30, and De La Torre, 19, each face one count of conspiring to recklessly endanger other people by conspiring to tamper with a consumer product. They also are charged with two counts of tampering with a consumer product.

Prosecutors allege the couple poisoned the salsa to make customers sick so the restaurant would be blamed and hurt financially.

Methomyl is a hard-to-get pesticide used for commercial fruit, vegetable and cotton crops. It can be purchased and used only by certified professionals

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