WORTHINGTON — Two men have been charged with first-degree sale and possession of drugs, and face a mandatory minimum of three years in prison.
A Worthington Police Department officer stopped a vehicle on Minnesota 60 near Armour Road Wednesday afternoon after it drifted over the center line. The vehicle also did not have its lights on, despite a blizzard warning and wind speeds of more than 30 miles per hour.
During the traffic stop, the officer detected the smell of marijuana and noticed large duffel bags in the rear of the vehicle. A search revealed a Ruger LCP .380-caliber handgun in the front passenger door, 134 pounds of leafy marijuana and 19.4 pounds of marijuana wax, along with a THC vape pen and dispensary tubes.
The vehicle's driver, Parker Mathewson, 22, of St. Cloud, told the officer that the handgun was his and he'd had it for years.
The passenger, Jose Alba-Zielinski, 22, of St. Cloud, explained after his arrest that Mathewson had asked if he'd like to make some money, offering $2,000 up front and another $2,000 on return. The two had rented the vehicle from the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and driven to Oregon to obtain the marijuana products.
Minnesota law requires a mandatory minimum of three years in prison for first-degree drug charges. The men face a possible maximum of 30 years in prison and/or a $1 million fine.