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Willmar woman sentenced to prison for drug possession

Maria Lopez is in the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Shakopee after being convicted of drug possession by a Kandiyohi County jury in April.

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WILLMAR — A Willmar woman has been sent to prison after a jury conviction for drug possession.

Maria Epifania Lopez, 60, of Willmar was sentenced May 17 in Kandiyohi County District Court to four years and 10 months in prison after an April jury conviction for second-degree drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was given credit for 105 days already served.

Maria Epifania Lopez crop.jpg
Maria Epifania Lopez

The jury had acquitted her of a first-degree drug sale charge.

Lopoez was arrested in February after the home where she was living was searched by CEE-VI Drug and Gang Task Force agents.

Lopez was one of three people arrested after the search. Drug paraphernalia and baggies containing 2.2 grams of suspected methamphetamine were found in a purse in the bathroom where the drug agents first came into contact with her.


A total of 52 grams of meth, almost 2 ounces, was found in the house, along with a water pipe and more drug paraphernalia.

In addition to the prison time for drug possession, she was ordered to pay a total of $190 in fines and court fees. That is to be paid from her prison earnings.

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"The part that is not resolved is not going to be resolved ever," the victim's daughter said after the sentencing. "He's obviously not going to admit to this at all, whatsoever."

By state law, she will be required to spend at least two-thirds of her sentence in custody and may serve the rest on supervised release.

In addition to the drugs and paraphernalia found in the purse by Lopez, other items were found in the bedroom where Lopez’s clothing was located. They included 15.3 grams of meth without packaging on a shelf, baggies containing a combined 9.7 grams of meth, and baggies with a cigarette box containing 2.0 grams of meth.

Paraphernalia included digital scales, a bong, pipes and cigarette papers. Bags with marijuana residue were found in the kitchen.

Drug agents said some of the drugs were found packaged in weights that would indicate they were to be sold, according to court records.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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