Meth bust in Pipestone County part of larger drug ring investigation
PIPESTONE — A criminal case that charged two Phoenix, Ariz. men with drug sales following the January discovery of more than 32 pounds of methamphetamine as they traveled through Pipestone County has now been handed over to another prosecuting agency.
Brandon Hadar-Espinoza, 21, and Rolando Cocova, 22, face charges in Stearns County District Court as a result of their alleged involvement in a covert drug trafficking operation that brought large amounts of meth and heroin from the Phoenix area to parts of western and central Minnesota. Four other individuals have been charged in relation to the operation.
The duo were arrested Jan. 6 by a Minnesota state trooper on Minnesota 23 near milepost 22 in Pipestone County. According to a criminal complaint filed in Stearns County, investigators from multiple agencies had tracked the duo’s vehicle from Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and finally to Pipestone County, where meth was discovered in what’s identified in a sophisticated trap built into the vehicle’s floor. The vehicle was allegedly destined for St. Cloud. The duo face conspiracy to import controlled substances across state borders and aggravated controlled substance crime, both felonies.
Both are currently being held on $1 million bails in the Stearns County Jail.