Men found with drugs on I-90

Published 9:20 am Monday, February 28, 2011

Two men from Mexico are facing first-degree controlled substance crimes after they were stopped by a state trooper on Interstate 90 earlier this month and were allegedly found to be transporting more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine and cocaine.

The men, Jesus Ivan Lopez-Torres, 21, and Antonio Melecio Sanchez-Hernandez, 34, were arrested Feb. 15 after a traffic stop on Interstate 90 near the Minnesota Highway 13 exit.

They are expected to appear in Freeborn County District Court on Monday.

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According to court documents, the two men were arrested after a series of events during the evening of Feb. 15.

Court reports state the men were initially pulled over because of numerous traffic violations.

Lopez-Torres was the driver and Sanchez-Hernandez was the passenger. Sanchez-Hernandez was reportedly sleeping in the back seat when the automobile was pulled over.

Reports state when the trooper asked for proof of insurance covering the vehicle, he noticed that the insurance had been purchased for the automobile just days before the stop. The trooper also reportedly smelled an “overwhelming smell” of air freshener in the vehicle, noting there were at least three air fresheners inside.

The trooper noted in the complaint that he associates such strong air freshener odor with the attempt of drug traffickers to hide the odor of their illegal cargo.

Court documents state both men had bloodshot and red eyes and appeared very fatigued.

They had just come from Denver and did not have any luggage.

The trooper reportedly conducted further checks and learned that Lopez-Torres had been deported a month earlier. He also had a previous drug arrest near the United States and Mexico border in 2007.

Sanchez-Hernandez also reportedly admitted to the trooper he was in the country illegally.

Documents state that with the assistance of an interpreter, the two men consented to a search of the vehicle with a drug detection dog.

The trooper ultimately found three packages taped with electrical tape to the inside of the vehicle’s battery container, court documents state. The original battery had been replaced with a smaller motorcycle battery and the empty spaces were used to hide the packages.

One package contained 506 grams of methamphetamine, one contained 1.138 kilograms of cocaine and the last contained 560 grams of cocaine. The total weight was over 2 kilograms of powder.

According to the trooper, the two men admitted to delivering the drugs from Phoenix where they stayed at the Super 8 motel. Sanchez-Hernandez said he was paid $1,000 to ride with and assist the delivery in Minnesota.

Both men face maximum penalties of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted of their crimes.