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Willmar man pleads to drug, firearms charges

WILLMAR -- Eric Flores, 25, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Thursday to an amended third-degree drug possession charge and a felony weapons possession charge for possessing meth and a rifle when he was stopped by Willmar police in March.

As part of a plea agreement reached in Kandiyohi County District Court, the charge was reduced from second-degree. Also as part of the agreement, two additional felony charges of first-degree drugs - manufacture of methamphetamine and firearms possession, plus two misdemeanor charges, will be dismissed. He will be sentenced June 23.

The charges were filed after a Willmar police officer was on patrol around 4:30 p.m. March 14 along Willmar Avenue and observed a vehicle driven by a man he recognized as Flores. The officer suspected Flores was driving without a valid license and was wanted on a warrant. Flores waved to the officer as he passed.

The officer followed the vehicle, confirmed with dispatch that Flores was wanted on a warrant in a domestic assault case and stopped the vehicle.

The officer smelled marijuana and searched Flores and the vehicle, locating $295 in Flores' pocket, 19 grams of meth in the vehicle and an SKS assault rifle in the trunk. The officer also located a magazine of rifle ammunition and boxes of ammunition and brass knuckles in the vehicle.

Flores was arrested and taken to jail. His criminal history includes convictions for felony assault of a peace officer in October 2005, possession of a dangerous weapon in March 2006 and burglary in July 2007.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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