Three men have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a methamphetamine distribution ring in east central Minnesota.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office reports that, from May 2020 through September 2020, Aaron Michael Stenquist, 50, of Isanti; Gerald Allen Jensen, 58, of Brook Park; Juan Jose Paniagua, 25, of West Covina, California; and others conspired to sell methamphetamine in the Twin Cities as well as Pine and Kanabec Counties.

Over the summer of 2020, members of the East Central Drug and Violent Offenders Task Force began developing information that Jensen was selling large amounts of methamphetamine out of his Brook Park residence. 

Stenquist was stopped by a Minnesota State Trooper near East Bethel on July 29, 2020. During a subsequent search of Stenquist’s vehicle, the trooper found approximately 355 grams of methamphetamine, which he had purchased from Jensen. 

 Agents searched Jensen’s home on Sept. 16, 2020, and seized approximately 3.5 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden inside PVC pipes. 

On Sept. 18, 2020, Paniagua – along with alleged co-conspirator Miguel Eduardo Del Real, 26 – arranged for a methamphetamine delivery from the Twin Cities to Jensen at the Grand Casino in Hinkley. The attempted delivery was brought by co-defendant Ivan Lopez, 26, and was intercepted by  agents. The agents arrested Lopez at the scene. Paniagua and Del Real fled. 

After a 90-minute manhunt involving police K9 and thermal imaging, law enforcement found Paniagua and arrested him. Agents separately recovered approximately 7 kilograms of methamphetamine in vacuum sealed bags from within the trunk of Lopez’s vehicle.

Defendants Lopez, Stenquist, Jensen and Paniagua each plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Stenquist was sentenced to 120 months in prison on Nov. 2, Jensen was sentenced on July 14 to 112 months in prison, and Paniagua was sentenced on Oct. 8 to 80 months in prison. Lopez is awaiting sentencing. 

On Nov. 2 alleged co-conspirator Del Real was arrested in San Diego pursuant to a federal warrant.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen A. Slaughter, and was the result of an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the East Central Drug and Violent Offender Task Force, the Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office, the Pine County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Paul Police Department, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Minnesota State Patrol.

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