Lawyer questions stop that led to bust

Published 11:07 am Friday, September 13, 2013

The lawyer of a Texas man charged in July with possessing 12 pounds of methamphetamine on Interstate 35 is questioning deputies’ intentions in his client’s traffic stop.

James Chatto, lawyer for Francisco Molina, 40, of Tyler, Texas, wonders how deputies expanded the stop from a window tint violation into a full search of the vehicle.

Minnesota State Patrol deputies stopped Molina near the interstate overpass to Minnesota Highway 251 on I-35.

Email newsletter signup

More than 30 minutes passed from the time Molina was pulled over until deputies requested a search of the vehicle.

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

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

He had a vehicle identification number that matched another license plate, and deputies found inconsistencies in Molina’s statements about how he would travel 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.