Albert Lea man charged after more than a pound of cocaine delivered in package to his house

Published 11:48 am Thursday, February 15, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

An Albert Lea man was charged with first-degree drug possession Thursday in Freeborn County District Court after a package with over a pound of cocaine was delivered to his home in Albert Lea.

Juan Manuel Mendez, 47, appeared on the charge, which involves possessing 50 grams or more.

Court documents stated an agent of the South Central Drug Investigation Unit was informed Tuesday of a package that had been intercepted by airport police that contained 1.365 pounds — or 618 grams of cocaine. The package was reportedly shipped next day by air to Mendez in Albert Lea.

Email newsletter signup

The agent obtained a search warrant for the house and assisted in removing three of four smaller packages containing cocaine within the larger cardboard package. He then reportedly assisted in re-sealing the larger package so that the recipient would not know it had been opened.

Later that same day an undercover officer reportedly delivered the package to Mendez at the address listed on the package in a video-recorded interaction.

Ten minutes later, officers executed a search warrant and found the package unopened and hidden in a closet in Mendez’s bedroom.

The value of the seized drugs is estimated at $30,000.

Court documents state officers talked to Mendez, and he expressed no difficulty in talking with them until he was read the Miranda warning, and then he said he did not understand English. Officers then went on to give him a written Miranda warning in Spanish, and he said he did not understand, so no interview was conducted.

In an interview with authorities, Mendez’s wife and daughter reportedly stated Mendez did not have a job and that he did not have money. They seemed surprised when told that the package had been sent to him.

His wife reportedly stated he didn’t use drugs to her knowledge, but the daughter stated he was a drug addict who had used drugs for a long time.

The wife and daughter said they both work, and Mendez stays home while they are at work.

Freeborn County District Court Judge Ross Leuning set unconditional bail at $150,000 and conditional bail at $25,000.

Mendez is next slated to appear in court Feb. 29.