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Suspect pleads not guilty to drug charges

Sanchez

One of two people facing drug charges after being arrested April 5 during an alleged drug deal has pleaded not guilty.

Thania Sanchez, 24, pleaded not guilty in Mower County District Court Monday to felony possessing methamphetamine paraphernalia in the presence of a child, a felony, and gross misdemeanors for fifth-degree drug possession and counterfeit currency-possessing or uttering.

A second person charged in the incident, Rocky Don Phathaem, 29, will next appear in court April 20 for two felonies: one for second-degree drug sale of 3 grams or more of cocaine or methamphetamine while possessing a firearm, and a second for third-degree drug sale of a narcotic.

According to court records, the Austin Police Department and Mower County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant on the 200 block of 11th Avenue Northwest at 1:52 p.m. on April 5.

A detective approached a 2003 Ford Explorer with Sanchez in the passenger seat and Phathaem in the driver seat.

The detective saw methamphetamine on the seat and on the floor of the passenger side of the car, and she appeared to have meth on her pants and slippers.

That caused the detective to believe she’d dumped the meth when she saw him approaching.

Sanchez was served the warrant and arrested. She was in possession of $300 on her person and $381 in a purse — and two $100 bills in her purse were counterfeit bills.

Phathaem

Phathaem, the owner of the Ford, advised officers he had meth on him, and he was found to have a small amount of marijuana and 7 grams of meth.

A search of Sanchez’s residence and the Ford uncovered several items: five cell phones, four digital scales and plastic bags, two spoons with meth residue, a torn counterfeit $100 bill, a bag of marijuana, a syringe kit, a tablet, .07 grams of meth from the Ford and on Sanchez, and other drug paraphernalia.

However, the detective believed much of the meth was not recovered.

Sanchez’s residence had a bedroom for a child, and Phathaem’s Ford had a 9 mm pistol under the driver’s seat with a full magazine.

Facebook messages exchanged by the two showed Phathaem was selling Sanchez meth, and he eventually told a detective he had purchased the meth and they were splitting it.

Sanchez declined to be interviewed.

In March, Sanchez pleaded guilty to fifth-degree drug possession after officers looking to recover stolen property found 10.3 grams of marijuana and methamphetamine residue. She is due for a July 13 sentencing in that case.

Sanchez is scheduled for an Aug. 14 trial.