Mankato man faces felony drug charge

FAIRMONT — A Mankato man is facing a felony charge in Martin County.

Kenneth Marquez Tuncle, 43, has been charged with drug possession in the fifth degree, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

According to the complaint:

On Jan. 10, a Minnesota state trooper was heading east on I-90 near milepost 101 when he observed a red Chevrolet Equinox traveling in front of him. The trooper observed the vehicle exit I-90 at exit 102 without signaling. The trooper caught up with the vehicle at Highway 15. The vehicle turned north onto the highway.

The trooper again caught up with the vehicle and activated his emergency lights. The vehicle turned west onto Fourth Street in Fairmont, taking longer than usual to pull over. The vehicle eventually pulled to the right shoulder, hitting the curb.

The trooper informed the driver, later identified as Tuncle, of the reason for the stop. The trooper observed that Tuncle seemed excessively nervous and would not make eye contact. The trooper also observed Tuncle’s upper lip twitch several times while talking to him.

Tuncle informed the trooper that the vehicle was registered to his girlfriend’s mother. Tuncle was asked to exit the vehicle and agreed to sit in the squad car as he waited for his girlfriend to call back with insurance information. While talking with Tuncle, the trooper could smell a faint body odor, the type of which is commonly associated with someone who is a chronic meth user.

The trooper also recognized Tuncle from prior contacts and was aware that Tuncle had previously sold and possessed narcotics. The trooper asked Tuncle if there were any drugs in the vehicle. Tuncle verbally consented for the vehicle to be sniffed by a K-9 unit, which alerted on the passenger side door seam. The K-9 also alerted on the interior center console.

When asked about the last time he had consumed marijuana in the vehicle, Tuncle admitted to smoking marijuana in the vehicle.

Officers searched the vehicle and found a substance that later tested positive for meth as well as a marijuana pipe in the center console.

Tuncle was placed under arrest and informed of his rights. Tuncle denied knowing about or using the meth.

The trooper then spoke to the girlfriend, who denied the meth belonged to her. Tuncle was transported to the Martin County jail.

During an interview, Tuncle admitted to using meth three days prior, and indicated he would test positive for meth.

A check of Tuncle’s criminal record indicated multiple drug convictions including a 2014 conviction for third degree controlled substance sales crime.