By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — A sting that authorities say literally dropped a pound of methamphetamine into a drug agent’s lap also led to a Mankato apartment where several more pounds of the drug were stashed.
A deal was set up by an agent with the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force after an informant reported Manuel Omar Valenzuela Gutierrez, 32, of Mankato was selling large amounts of the drug, according to a criminal complaint filed this week in Blue Earth County District Court. The agent and informant arranged to buy a pound of the drug for $8,000.
Prior to the deal taking place in front of the former TGI Friday’s restaurant in Mankato early Friday afternoon, the informant also told investigators a large shipment of methamphetamine was about to be delivered to Gutierrez.
The agent was waiting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle in the empty parking lot when Gutierrez arrived. Gutierrez got out of his vehicle, walked over to the agent and dropped a large package in his lap. Then Gutierrez walked around the vehicle and sat down in the passenger seat before the agent showed him the cash.
As the agent was giving the signal for other officers to move in, Gutierrez allegedly said he had just received a new batch of methamphetamine. He was questioned about the delivery after his arrest, which prompted the task force to search a Mankato apartment. Between 7 and 8 more pounds of the drug were found during that search, the complaint said.
A tire also was found inside the apartment. An agent reported Gutierrez said the methamphetamine, which appeared to be in the original packaging from when it was manufactured, had been delivered in the tire. The complaint also said Gutierrez told investigators his supplier delivering the drug from outside Minnesota, but it wasn’t more specific.
If a pound of methamphetamine was actually what was delivered for $8,000, the sting reveals the huge profit margin involved with selling the drug.
At that price, the methamphetamine purchased by the agent cost $500 per ounce. There are roughly 28 grams in an ounce, so that equates to a price of just under $18 per gram.
Task Force stings that have targeted smaller dealers have resulted in deals where 2 or 3 grams are sold for $100 or more per gram.
This is one of the largest drug stings to result in criminal charges in Blue Earth County District Court during the past several years. Dan Davidson, Task Force commander, could not be reached for comment.
Bail was set at $250,000 with conditions and $750,000 without conditions for Gutierrez. He was in the Blue Earth County Jail Wednesday awaiting his initial court appearance next week.