By Dan Nienaber firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mankato Free Press
---- — 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.
About three months before Opiew was arrested he was stopped in a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer while traveling west on I-80 in Nebraska. He and a passenger were arrested after sheriff’s deputies found a bag of marijuana and five marijuana cigarettes. When the Mountaineer was searched thoroughly, about $45,000 in cash was found hidden under its second-row seats.
Opiew and his passenger were released, but Nebraska authorities kept the cash because the men said they didn’t know anything about it.