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2 Texas residents allegedly found with 6 pounds of meth

Two people from Texas were charged with felony methamphetamine counts Tuesday after authorities found six pounds of the drug in their vehicle Saturday during a traffic stop on Interstate 35 in Freeborn County.

Manuel Lucio Lara, 37, and Maria Antonia Preciado Hernandez, 38, both of Fort Worth, Texas, are each charged with first-degree meth possession and aiding and abetting first-degree meth possession in Freeborn County District Court.

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 a.m. Saturday, approximately two miles north of the Iowa border. Hernandez reportedly was the driver of the vehicle. Lara owned the vehicle.

Court documents state they allegedly told the trooper they were on vacation and were traveling to Rochester. They reportedly stated they had driven the last two days straight slowly from Texas to Minnesota. Items in the vehicle and the time it allegedly took them to travel from Texas led the trooper to believe there were inconsistencies in their story.

A K-9 allegedly noticed the presence of drugs in the vehicle, and a check revealed that the vehicle’s license plate was read early Friday on Interstate 40 in Arizona, discrediting their story.

Maria Antonia Preciado

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. The seventh package reportedly had inconclusive field-test results.

Court documents state the trooper noticed Hernandez had a bracelet with two small medallions with photos of Jesus Malverde, who is often referred to as the patron saint of drug smugglers.

District Court Judge Steven Schwab set unconditional bail for Lara and Hernandez at $200,000 each.

Lara and Hernandez are next scheduled to appear in court April 27.

First-degree meth possession 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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