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Murray County burglary investigation leads to Worthington residence

Rosales1 / 4
Esparza2 / 4
Castro3 / 4
Bell4 / 4

Editor's note: This story was originally published on April 7, 2018.

WORTHINGTON — Four individuals are in custody after being caught up in burglaries in surrounding counties involving multiple stolen firearms, cash and jewelry and drug possession.

Ray M. Rosales, Jr., 34; Rodrigo N. Esparza, 30; Shania L. Bell, 21, all of Worthington; and Ashley A. Castro, 25, of Lakefield, were arrested Thursday following a search warrant execution at a residence in the 900 block of Seventh Avenue in Worthington.

Burglary investigation leads to warrant search

According to the criminal complaint filed Friday in Nobles County District Court, a search warrant was obtained by the Murray County Sheriff’s Department after an investigation led them to believe Rosales was involved in two March 29 burglaries in Murray and Rock counties.

A Murray County resident reported 11 firearms, cash, a spotting scope, coyote pelt with red and black felt, jewelry and other miscellaneous items with a total estimated value of $20,000 stolen from their residence March 29. Some of the firearms were limited production editions that were gold-plated and engraved.

A Rock County resident reported a burglary and stolen silver iPhone 6 and cash that same day. Eyewitnesses identified a suspect matching Rosales’ description, the complaint continues.

The complaint details that six rifle shotguns, ammunition magazines, shotgun shells, coyote pelt with red and black trim, a 14-karat white Morganite diamond ring and two pairs of white gloves — all matching descriptions of stolen items from the Murray County residence — were allegedly discovered in Rosales’ bedroom. Officers also allegedly discovered a silver iPhone 6 and clothing in his bedroom that witnesses detailed him wearing. Officers also found a handwritten list of several firearms with values written next to them.

Another gun reported stolen — a Smith and Wesson Model 17 .22-caliber handgun — was allegedly discovered in Esparza’s bedroom at the residence. In a post-arrest interview, Esparza claimed he was unaware the handgun was stolen. It was allegedly found in his room in a shoebox underneath a pair of shoes.

In addition to the stolen items, officers also discovered drugs in Rosales and Bell’s bedrooms and on Castro — who was a house visitor.

Officers allegedly recovered 4.1 grams of meth, two glass pipes and a black case with meth residue from Rosales’ bedroom.

Officers allegedly discovered baggies with a white residue and multiple pipes that tested positive for meth in Bell’s bedroom while she was not home. During a post-arrest interview, she claimed to have not used drugs in a couple of months and denied the recovered items were hers.

Castro — who was a house guest at the time — allegedly had 1.1 grams of methamphetamine, .6 grams of what was suspected to be marijuana and a glass pipe with meth residue on her person. In a post-arrest interview, Castro said Rosales had asked her that day and about two weeks prior if she wanted to purchase guns.

Charges filed

Rosales is facing felony possession of stolen property; felon convicted crime of violence — firearm violation, a felony; felony fifth-degree drug possession, not a small amount; and petty misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. A possession of stolen property conviction (the most serious offense) is punishable up to 20 years imprisonment, a $100,000 fine or both. He has two felony-level, classified violence crime convictions.

Rosales’ bail was set at $100,000 with conditions or $250,000 without.

Castro is facing felony fifth-degree drug possession and petty misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia charges. Her bail was set at $750 with conditions or $15,000 without.

Bell has been charged with gross misdemeanor fifth-degree controlled substance crime and petty misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bail was set at $15,000 without conditions.

Esparza has been charged with felony possession of stolen property. His bail was set at $10,000 with conditions or $30,000 without.

The quartet’s initial appearance has been scheduled for April 17 in Nobles County District Court.