yakama tribal nation police standing

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A former Yakama Nation tribal police officer indicted on federal child pornography and drug charges last summer faces trial in April.

Lorenzo Elias Mendez was fired after he was indicted June 19 in U.S. District Court and charged with attempted production of child pornography and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He has pleaded not guilty.

His trial had been scheduled for Aug. 20. His attorney, Kenneth Therrien, has been granted three motions to move the date. The current trial date is April 15.

Mendez is accused of using a hidden video camera to record a friend’s daughter in her bedroom. He’s also accused of possessing more than 50 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

His friend discovered several nude videos of the teenager on Mendez’s cell phone and a relative discovered a camera hidden in a teddy bear in the girl’s room, according to a police affidavit.

After searching Mendez’s property and vehicles, police found 58.5 grams of methamphetamine and 7.5 grams of heroin in his patrol vehicle.

The drugs were in several small bags and appeared to be packaged for distribution, the affidavit said.

Mendez hadn’t investigated a drug case in the past four years, his supervisor told investigators.

Tribal officials in late June released a statement saying Lorenzo no longer works for the department.

“The Yakama Nation does not in any way support or condone the alleged conduct. ... Both the Yakama Nation Tribal Council and Yakama Nation Police Department will continue to work with our federal counterparts to assist in the criminal prosecution,” the statement said.