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Authorities intercept marijuana shipment

WORTHINGTON -- Authorities intercepted more than a pound of marijuana as it was being shipped from California to Worthington last week, and the two who received the package are scheduled to make a court appearance Monday, according to court documents.

Pranom Souvannarath, 29, and Somsalao Thonesavanh, 43, both of Worthington, are facing felony-level charges of controlled substance possession in the case.

Souvannarath was released on her own recognizance last week, while bail for set for Thonesavanh at $10,000.

The complaint states Thonesavanh was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine in South Dakota's federal district court in 2004.

According to the criminal complaint, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Police contacted local authorities July 26 regarding a suspicious package observed at the airport.

The package, sent via overnight air from a mail store in Fresno, Calif., was addressed to a Kon Vongphackdy on Eighth Avenue in Worthington.

A K-9 unit at the airport had alerted to the package, the airport police reported.

The package was placed on an airplane destined for Marshall and taken by truck to a carrier hub in Slayton.

Authorities provided a Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force agent with the tracking information, and personnel at the hub agreed to pull the package when it arrived.

Murray County Deputy Brian Gass and his K-9 partner, Bailey, conducted a sniff test of several packages at the hub, with the dog alerting to the Worthington-bound package. After executing a search warrant, the agent opened the package and found an amount of a green leafy substance inside a vacuum-sealed bag.

The substance tested positive for marijuana -- 504 grams including packaging.

Arrangements were made for a controlled delivery of the package to the destination address.

An agent was dropped off and walked to the house, where he knocked on the front door.

When no one answered the door, he left the package on the steps, where it was kept under surveillance until a couple arrived approximately 20 minutes later.

The man picked up the package, and both he and a female entered the residence.

Agents went to the side entrance and knocked, announcing they had a search warrant.

The woman opened the door, and both she and the man were ordered to the ground.

The man, later identified as Thonesavanh, went toward another room, and an agent pursued him.

Both Thonesavanh and the woman, identified as Souvannarath, were detained.

The package was found in the front porch, and in the course of the search, agents also found a bag full of smaller zipper baggies.

The two were arrested, and both declined to give a statement.

A search of law enforcement records revealed no contact with anyone by the name of Kon Vongphackdy generally or at the Eighth Street address.

No hits for the name were found statewide or nation wide, including through utilities, driver's records or credit reports.

The agent on the case believes the name is fictitious.