The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 1, 2013

Man caught with cash, marijuana found guilty by jury

Pot was delivered by police after being found at the airport

MANKATO — A Mankato man who was arrested after investigators delivered half a pound of marijuana to an apartment in April has been found guilty of selling marijuana near a school zone.

Medi Okugn Opiew, 21, demanded a speedy trial after he was arrested with five other men at an apartment at 412 N. Second St., which is near Immanuel Lutheran School. Investigators with the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force delivered a package with a half pound of marijuana to the apartment on April 8. The package, which had been shipped to the Second Street address, had been found by airport investigators.

Shortly after delivering the package task force agents and uniformed police officers raided the apartment. They reported finding the pot piled on a table in front of Opiew and the other men. They also said Opiew had $800 in cash in front of him on the table. Investigators suspected Opiew and the others were splitting the marijuana with plans to sell it in smaller amounts.

During a one-day trial Wednesday a task force investigator testified that several text messages setting up a drug deal had been found on one of two cellphones taken from Opiew. Some of the messages, which used drug slang, talked about setting up larger deals and another suggested Opiew planned to sell small amounts of pot to someone shortly after making the larger deal, the agent said.

A jury found Opiew guilty of two felony counts of fourth-degree drug sales in a school zone and two felony counts of fifth-degree drug sales. Opiew will be remain in the Blue Earth County Jail until he is sentenced by District Court Judge Krista Jass on July 23.

The man who was living in the apartment, 20-year-old Chudier Gatkuoth Dang, pleaded guilty to lesser charges and also is awaiting sentencing. He has been released from jail. The other four men are awaiting trial.

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