By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — An Austin couple remains in jail after they were arrested during a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension drug sting involving more than a half pound of methamphetamine.
The Jan. 8 deal was set up by a BCA agent who reported he had purchased methamphetamine three previous times from 57-year-old Reynaldo Rivera Jr. and 46-year-old Josefina Villa. As during the earlier transactions, the meeting was set up to take place in the parking lot of Mankato’s Target store at the River Hills Mall, the criminal complaints said.
Other law enforcement officers were sent to the couple’s residence in Austin and followed them after they left at about 7:30 a.m. with a third person. That person was dropped off in Blooming Prairie before Rivera and Villa were followed to the intersection of Highway 14 and Blue Earth County Road 27, just east of Eagle Lake, investigators reported.
Officers following the couple told the BCA agent the couple turned north toward Lake Washington and parked on the shoulder of the road. Rivera then got out of the van he was driving and opened the hood of the van before taking a dog for a walk in a ditch. As that was happening, an informant the agent was using to translate reported Rivera had called and said he ran out of gas. Rivera then asked the informant to send the agent out to them so he could help them get fuel.
When the agent arrived, Rivera walked him down to a culvert in the ditch and handed him a “Surf” brand detergent box. A plastic bag inside the box contained about nine ounces of a white powder that later tested positive for methamphetamine, the complaints said.
The house in Austin was searched after the couple was arrested. Investigators reported finding another half ounce of methamphetamine and several identification cards with different names, the complaints said.
Rivera and Villa are each facing four counts of first-degree drug sales. Their bail was set at $300,000 each.