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Third defendant pleads in cocaine sale case

WILLMAR -- A third of five defendants charged with selling cocaine to a CEE-VI Drug Task Force informant last year and possessing cocaine found during the execution of a search warrant has pleaded guilty in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Maira Alejandra Fernandez, 20, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Monday to a fourth-degree controlled substance sale charge and a gross misdemeanor for child endangerment. As part of a plea agreement, the drug charge was reduced from first-degree and another first-degree charge will be dismissed. The plea came one day before Fernandez was to stand trial on the charges. She will be sentenced June 2.

Fernandez is one of five Willmar residents charged with drug sale and conspiracy charges last year. Santos Pena Reyes, 39, of Willmar, has pleaded guilty to a first-degree drug sale conspiracy charge and will be sentenced May 11. Nelda Sepulveda, 41, of Willmar, was sentenced last week to 90 days in jail, a $1,500 fine and 10 years of probation on a third-degree controlled substance conspiracy charge.

Gilberto Reyes III, 25, and Jadie Reyes, 18, also face two felony first-degree drug sale charges. Gilberto is scheduled for a June 9 jury trial and Jadie's omnibus hearing is set for May 13.

According to the complaint against Santos Reyes and Sepulveda, a confidential informant for the drug task force purchased cocaine from them on seven occasions between August and November. The purchases were made with funds from by the task force.

Task force agents executed a search warrant Dec. 3 on the couple's Regency West home. The search revealed 12 grams of cocaine; $4,000 in cash, including two $100 bills that were recorded as used by the informant to purchase cocaine from Gilberto Reyes; a loaded .25-caliber handgun; gang photos of Santos Reyes; a U.S. Border Patrol shirt and badge; and a Rice Memorial Hospital identification card in Sepulveda's name.

Court documents identify the couple as Jadie Reyes' parents and Santos Reyes as an uncle to Gilbert Reyes III, who is identified as Fernandez' husband.

According to the complaints against Gilberto Reyes and Fernandez, a confidential informant for the drug task force made six drug purchases from the couple between August and October at their home in Regency Estates West. Each purchase was made with funds provided by the task force and the drugs were turned over to agents after the deals were complete.

Agents served a search warrant on the home and found two small children, ages 3 and 2, at the home with another woman. Officers found drug-selling paraphernalia, scales, an "owe" sheet, a small amount of cash and 17 grams of cocaine in the home. Gilberto Reyes and Fernandez arrived during the search and were arrested. Recordings made of the drug transactions include evidence that the small children were present when the drug deals were made.

According to the complaint against Jadie Reyes, she was present during one of six purchases made by the informant from Santos Reyes and Sepulveda.