Lawyer questions stop that led to drug bust

Published 10:56 am Thursday, September 12, 2013

The lawyer of a Texas man charged in July with possessing 12 pounds of methamphetamine on Interstate 35 is questioning parts of his client’s traffic stop, which ended in the alleged discovery of the drugs.

James Chatto, lawyer for Francisco Molina, 40, of Tyler, Texas, wonders how deputies expanded the stop from being one initially about a window tint violation into a stop that ended in a full search of the vehicle.

Minnesota State Patrol deputies pulled Molina over near the interstate overpass to Minnesota Highway 251 on I-35. More than 30 minutes reportedly passed from the time of he was pulled over until the deputies requested a search of the vehicle.

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Molina faces one charge of first-degree drug possession after deputies found the meth in a secret compartment behind the left rear fender of the tire. They also seized $591 in cash.

Francisco Molino

Francisco Molino

Troopers said they questioned the fact that the insurance had been put on the vehicle the day before, along with Molina’s lack of luggage, even though he was traveling from Texas to Minnesota.

He had a vehicle identification number that matched another license plate, and the deputies found inconsistencies in Molina’s statements of how he would be traveling back to Texas once he reached the Twin Cities area.

Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab has taken the issue under advisement.

Molina, meanwhile, is being held in the Freeborn County jail on $150,000 conditional bail.

Possession of methamphetamine in the first-degree carries a maximum penalty of 30 year prison and a $1 million fine.