Feds take over local drug case

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 6, 2002

Federal authorities Thursday took over the case of Rafael Gallardo Jr., who was arrested for having about a kilogram of cocaine.

Gallardo was arrested in a raid by the South Central Drug Investigation Unit and local police last month in his residence at 327 W. Main St. in Albert Lea. He was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis showed interest in handling the case and took over. Gallardo was newly charged with a federal law violation for the same count, while the original charge by the County Attorney’s Office was withdrawn. He was transported to the Twin Cities to await a hearing in U.S. District Court of Minnesota scheduled on Dec. 10.

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Federal law has more strict penalties for drug offense than state law, according to Assistant Freeborn County Attorney David Walker.

The possession of more than 500 grams of cocaine is subject to a minimum five-year prison term in the federal law, while there is no mandatory minimum prison term in Minnesota’s legal system. Gallardo also had three handguns: Two in the residence and one in a shop where he worked. Each of them is also subject to a five-year sentence. Under state law, it is three years.

Gallardo was suspected of dealing drugs from his house. The investigators found a surveillance camera watching over the entrance, a digital gram scale and the guns. Some of the drugs were believed to be flushed down a toilet during the police raid.

Carolina Pena, who also lived in the Main Street residence, was arrested and charged. She is still in state custody.