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2 Texans charged with possessing 6 pounds of meth plead not guilty

Two Texas people charged with allegedly possessing six pounds of methamphetamine in a vehicle on Interstate 35 earlier this month pleaded not guilty Thursday in Freeborn County District Court.

Maria Antonia Preciado Hernandez, 38, and Manuel Lucio Lara, 37, are each charged with first-degree meth possession and aiding and abetting first-degree meth possession in connection with the April 15 incident.

According to a motion filed Thursday in Freeborn County, Lara plans to request suppressing all evidence obtained by a Minnesota state trooper that day because of his allegation that the trooper “unduly expanded the scope and duration of the stop beyond the initial justification of the stop, without a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity.”

Maria Antonia Preciado Hernandez

The motion states the search violated U.S. and Minnesota constitutions. According to the motion, the trooper was not justified in requesting Lara’s consent to search the vehicle and Lara did not knowingly and voluntarily consent to a search of the vehicle. The motion states the search went beyond the scope of Lara’s alleged consent without independent justification.

Lara is requesting the case be dismissed if the motion is granted. He is requesting two state troopers and all other officers who responded be available to testify May 24 during his contested omnibus hearing. A contested omnibus hearing for Hernandez is also scheduled for May 24.

Manuel Lucio Lara

Court documents state the two were charged after a Minnesota State Patrol trooper noticed a pickup traveling fast at about 8:40 am. April 15, approximately two miles north of the Iowa border. Hernandez reportedly was the driver of the vehicle. Lara owned the vehicle.

A K-9 allegedly noticed the presence of drugs in the pickup, and a check revealed that the vehicle’s license plate was read early April 14 on Interstate 40 in Arizona, discrediting their story that they had been driving the last two days slowly from Texas.

Seven packages were reportedly found under a bed liner in the truck. Six of those packages field-tested as a combined six pounds of meth — 2,721 grams.

First-degree meth possession and aiding and abetting first-degree meth possession each carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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