Traffic stop leads to drug charges

Published 6:50 am Wednesday, October 7, 2020

An Austin man allegedly found to be in possession of methamphetamine during a traffic stop made his first appearance on Tuesday in Mower County District Court.

John Herbet Merten, 44

John Herbet Merten, 44, has been charged with felony second-degree drugs – sale of 10 grams or more of a narcotic other than heroin – subsequent offense, felony third-degree drugs – possess 10 grams or more of a narcotic other than heroin – and misdemeanor fourth-degree DWI – under the influence of a controlled substance.

According to the court complaint, a Mower County deputy initiated a traffic stop on a 2014 GMC Sierra at about 7:08 p.m. on Oct. 4 after clocking the truck going 70 miles per hour in a 55 zone on Country Road 14. The deputy made contact with the driver, Merten, and noticed his pupils were dilated and reacted slowly to light. Another deputy arrived on scene and observed that Merten made fast, twitching body movements.

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Deputies had Merten conduct four field sobriety tests, three of which he failed with one producing inconclusive results. Merten’s heart rate was measured at 116 beats per minute and he was arrested for driving while impaired.

The GMC was searched and the following items were seized:

• Eight syringes;

• A scale;

• $756.00 cash;

• Several empty plastic bags; and

• Five small plastic bags containing approximately 13 grams of methamphetamine.

Merten was transported to the Mower County Jail, where deputies were granted a search warrant for a sample of Merten’s blood or urine. He agreed to provide a blood sample and was transported to the hospital, where a phlebotomist drew a blood sample. The blood sample was then sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension laboratory for analysis.

A review of Merten’s criminal record shows prior convictions for drug possession, drug sales, receiving stolen property and DWI.

Merten will appear in court again on Oct. 19.