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Watkins man gets 110 months in prison for meth conspiracy

WILLMAR -- A 43-year-old Watkins man will serve 110 months in prison for a felony charge of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. He was one of three people arrested in March after alert pharmacists notified other pharmacists and law enforce...

WILLMAR -- A 43-year-old Watkins man will serve 110 months in prison for a felony charge of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. He was one of three people arrested in March after alert pharmacists notified other pharmacists and law enforcement about the group's suspicious actions of buying quantities of pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in meth.

Dale Harry Dufner was sentenced Tuesday in Kandiyohi County District Court. His prison term will be served concurrently, or at the same time, as an 86-month sentence for a Stearns County conviction of first-degree manufacture of methamphetamine for cooking meth at his rural Watkins home.

Before sentencing, Dufner's attorney Manuel Guerrero argued for a lesser sentence of 86 months on the local charge. Connie Crowell, first assistant county attorney, argued that Dufner was an active participant and a "cooker" of meth.

"Without him and his expertise, a lot of meth wouldn't be on the street," she said. "This defendant was a cooker."

Two others arrested with Dufner on March 16, Tanya Marie Hampton, 28, of Belgrade, and Isaac Daniel Martinson, 33, of Cold Spring, were also charged. Hampton was sentenced to 120 days in jail, five years of probation and a $1,500 fine in August. Martinson has been deemed mentally incompetent to proceed on criminal charges. He is scheduled for a civil commitment hearing on Thursday.

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The charges were filed after a March 16 incident in which the trio traveled through New London, Spicer and Willmar buying pseudoephedrine from pharmacies along the way. They were arrested after Willmar pharmacists alerted other pharmacies to the suspicious actions of the trio.

Guerrero argued that Dufner accepted responsibility for his actions and has successfully completed treatment for drug addiction.

Dufner, during his opportunity to speak before sentencing, admitted his guilt -- but said he only assisted in the meth making process -- and asked for leniency.

"I am a changed man. I hope you would look upon me with leniency," he told Judge Donald M. Spilseth.

Dufner was given credit for 129 days already served. He was found guilty in a Dec. 11 court trial on the stipulated facts in the case. Two felonies for possession of meth and meth precursors were dismissed.

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