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Woman pleads guilty to meth charge

By Tim Ruzek

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

An Austin woman who was arrested in December with more than 2 pounds of methamphetamine in a home pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to her role in a regional drug ring.

Mona Lisa Veraza, 37, entered a guilty plea to a single count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute meth, according to records from the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

A federal judge ordered Veraza’s plea agreement and the transcript to be sealed, records showed.

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Veraza is one of 10 defendants indicted in federal court with conspiring together and with others to possess with the intent to distribute at least 500 grams — more than 1 pound — of meth.

The alleged drug activity occurred March 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2006, mainly in southeastern Minnesota.

The grand jury indictment was unsealed in March. It doesn’t give details on the alleged criminal activity.

On Dec. 20, authorities arrested Veraza at a northeast Austin home near the Hormel Foods Corp. plant after conducting a search warrant.

There, they uncovered more than 2 pounds of meth and several ounces of cocaine, according to a criminal complaint.

Veraza was charged in Mower District Court with two counts of first-degree drug crime, which were dismissed in February, when Veraza was transferred into federal custody.

Authorities also had sought to arrest Guillermo Zalava Rodriguez, 52, of Austin, during the search, but he wasn’t there, the complaint says.

Rodriguez is one of four people in the federal indictment who haven’t been arrested, records showed.

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Overall, five of the 10 defendants, including Veraza, have pleaded guilty.

Jenny Lynn Harris, 26, also pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to a single count of interstate travel in the aid of unlawful activity, federal documents show. The charge stems from a complaint filed Monday.

Three other defendants — Gregory Jon Stout, 44, of Freeborn County; Jayson Lee Hatton, 37, of Rochester; and Amy Marie McAlister, 31, no address available, also have pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute meth.

Sentencing hasn’t been set for any defendant.

Another defendant, Nicole Angela Davis, of Rochester, is facing the same charge in the indictment as well as a second count alleging she was involved with the distribution of more than 50 grams of meth around November and December 2006 in Olmsted County.

Davis is slated for a June 25 jury trial.

Part of the complaint alleges Davis and an associate went Dec. 7 to a storage locker Davis had in Austin to get 8 ounces of meth.

Three other suspects remain at-large: Raymundo Tivurcio Sanchez, 35; Victor Manuel Favela Barraza, 21; and Ana Laura Rojas Moreno, 35. No address was available for them.

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