Prosecutors drop charges against accused Seneca Valley High School drug dealer

Manuel Hernandez-Duran, 18. (Montgomery County Police Department)

Prosecutors say they will no longer pursue criminal charges against a high school student who was busted in the halls of Seneca Valley High School with an alleged "large quantity" of marijuana.

On September 18, staff members say they noticed the "strong odor of marijuana" coming from Manuel Hernandez-Duran's backpack. The 18-year-old was escorted to the front office where a school security guard combed through his blue book bag.

According to charging documents, officials found four individually wrapped plastic baggies within a larger clear ziplock bag. Each of the smaller baggies held a "green leafy substance." Security also located a thick "vacuum sealed" plastic bag that had the same "green leafy substance" inside. Individually folded $5 and $1 bills were also stashed in the backpack, which police stated was indicative of drug dealing.

The school resource officer tested the "green leafy substance", which reportedly came back positive for marijuana.

"Based on how the four baggies of marijuana were packaged, for easy access in a school setting, the writer believed it was consistent in the manner in which marijuana is distributed," the school resource officer wrote in charging documents obtained by ABC7.

Hernandez-Duran was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana over 10 grams, plus possession with intent to distribute on school property. The two counts carried up to 21 years in prison combined.

Despite a significant amount of physical evidence, the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office opted to drop the criminal case against the 18-year-old in late November. A spokesman for the prosecutorial agency did not provide an answer as to why.

Court records state Hernandez-Duran was born in El Salvador, but has lived in the United States for at least three years. He resides with his sister in Germantown. It is unclear if the teen is still enrolled at Seneca Valley High School.

The Maryland Office of the Public Defender had been representing Hernandez-Duran while the criminal case was active.

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