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By Lisa Baumann, Forum Communications Co., Published January 15 2010

Texans charged in Minnesota pot case

CLOQUET, Minn. – Two Texas residents were charged here this week in connection with transporting 62 pounds of marijuana through Carlton County.

According to court records, a Minnesota State Patrol officer stopped Jorge Gutierrez-Salazar, 24, and Graciela Yadit Medrano, 21, because of an obstructed license plate.

The officer reported that as he spoke to the duo, their stories conflicted and made no sense, and then noticed a caricature of the Patron Saint of drug smugglers “Jesus Malverde” hanging from the defendant’s rearview mirror, court documents said.

The officer called for backup, including a drug-sniffing dog that located two large bales of marijuana found inside luggage in the car’s trunk. A preliminary field weight by the trooper revealed the amount to be 62 pounds.

Gutierrez-Salazar faces a felony charge of third-degree possession of a controlled substance, while Medrano is charged with felony third-degree possession of a controlled substance – aiding and abetting.

Both men are from Rockwall, Texas.

Salazar allegedly admitted to officers that the drugs belonged to him and claimed he was bringing the drugs to Duluth from Texas as a “favor to a sinister drug cartel he was familiar with.”

Medrano’s family posted $10,000 bond, according to jail staff. Salazar’s bail was set at $50,000, and he remains in Carlton County Jail.

Lisa Baumann is a reporter at The Pine Journal of Cloquet, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.