Two men arrested at the River Hills Mall Monday have connections to a methamphetamine distribution ring that was allegedly shipping thousands of dollars worth of the drug in liquid form before selling it by the ounce in solid form in Iowa and Minnesota.
Several ounces of meth were purchased by Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators who traveled to Mason City, Iowa, in February to set up the buys after receiving information from the South Central Drug Investigation Unit, a drug task force based in Owatonna.
Task force agents asked for BCA assistance after setting up a buy from Ricardo Camberos-Valle, 26 on Feb. 9. The sting to buy 3 ounces of meth was not successful, but Camberos-Valle was stopped by a state trooper anyway because investigators suspected he had 5 ounces of the drug in his vehicle.
Camberos-Valle and another man, 25-year-old Juan Jose Lopez, were the two men arrested at the Mankato mall Monday. They met the BCA investigators in the parking lot after a deal was set up to buy 5 ounces of meth. Lopez allegedly delivered the meth to an agent waiting in a vehicle while Camberos-Valle walked into the mall’s food court. Lopez was arrested in the parking lot and Camberos-Valle in the mall after he appeared to be sending texts from his cellphone, the complaints said.
Both men had been followed to the mall from a house at 123 Seventh Ave. in St. James, a residence that had been linked to previous drug buys by the BCA investigators. That house was searched Monday shortly after the arrests because agents were concerned that Camberos-Valle had told people there to get rid of evidence after watching Lopez’s arrest from the food court.
St. James Police Chief Mark Carvatt said he couldn’t comment on what was found in the house because his officers were only assisting the BCA. No charges had been filed in Watonwan County District Court as a result of the search as of Wednesday afternoon.