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St. Paul cartel 'stash house' caretaker pleads guilty to federal drug charge

By Tad Vezner
07/30/2014 0

This house in St. Paul's West Seventh neighborhood was allegedly used as a "stash house" by a Mexican drug cartel. After drugs and money were stolen from it in April, several suspects were kidnapped and tortured, according to charges filed in Ramsey County District Court. (Pioneer Press: Mara Gottfried)

A man who watched over a Mexican drug cartel's "stash house" on a quiet street in St. Paul has pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Antonio Navarro, 19, made the guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, clearing the way for Ramsey County prosecutors to move forward with additional charges against him.

Federal prosecutors said Navarro and Juan Ricardo Elenes Villalvazo, 32, kept a "stash house" for large amounts of meth in the 900 block of Palace Avenue. Navarro was paid $1,000 a week, plus food, to watch the house for the cartel, reportedly the Sinaloa syndicate. Drugs were delivered to the rental house in the West Seventh neighborhood and hidden there along with cash.

Additionally, two Los Angeles men -- Jesus Ramirez, 31, and Jonatan Delgado Alvarez, 22 -- flew to the Twin Cities in April after meth and $200,000 in cash were stolen from the house.

All four men allegedly kidnapped two Minneapolis teens, brought them to the house and tortured them, including nearly severing one of the victim's fingers, according to a federal indictment. But when they determined the next day that the young men didn't have information about the missing drugs and money, they released them.

Navarro, as well as Ramirez and Alvarez, have been charged in Ramsey County District Court with kidnapping, assault and robbery. That case was put on hold, pending the outcome of the federal charges.

Villalvazo, who prosecutors say was responsible for nearly severing the teen's finger, has yet to be apprehended.