WILLMAR -- Justin Paul Nelson, 25, of Lake Lillian, made his first court appearance Monday on felony charges of fifth-degree drug possession, receiving stolen property, possession of a weapon by a person convicted of a violent crime and for storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in the presence of a child or vulnerable adult.
Unconditional bail was set at $50,000. His next appearance is Jan. 3 in Kandiyohi County District Court. Nelson also faces petty misdemeanors for possession of drug paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana.
Nelson and a juvenile, Steven Anthony Aguilar-Mota, 17, of St. Paul, are charged in the case. Aguilar-Mota faces juvenile charges for a fifth-degree drug possession and receiving stolen property. The teen was ordered held at Prairie Lakes Youth Programs. His next appearance is Nov. 27.
Felony charges against 16- and 17-year-old juveniles are public record.
According to the complaint against Nelson, CEE-VI Drug Task Force agents were conducting a follow-up investigation Thursday afternoon in the parking lot of the Lakeview Inn, along Business 71 North in Willmar. They noticed a vehicle with loud music and recognized the driver of the vehicle as Johnny Juan Molina, 28, of Willmar. Molina was taken into custody for driving on a revoked license and was searched, revealing a pipe with methamphetamine residue. His next appearance on the resulting fifth-degree drug possession charge is Nov. 26.
In an effort to identify Aguilar-Mota, whom agents saw walk up to Molina's vehicle, the agents knocked on a nearby motel room door. Nelson opened the door and was arrested on a Department of Corrections warrant.
Based on the drug paraphernalia, digital scale with drug residue and ammunition in plain sight in the hotel room, the agents were granted a search warrant for the room. They located a stolen .357-caliber Magnum revolver under the bed, a small amount of methamphetamine and marijuana and $2,080 in cash.
The gun was traced as a weapon stolen in 2007 in Swift County. Nelson has a prior conviction for second-degree drug sale in 2010 in Kandiyohi County.