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Williston residents had half-pound of meth, pound of marijuana when arrested in Walsh County, charges say

GRAFTON, N.D.—Two Williston residents face multiple drug charges after the pair was arrested last fall in Park River, N.D., with what police say was a half-pound of meth and a pound of marijuana.

Job Garcia Lopez Jr., 34, appeared Wednesday in Walsh County District Court on three Class A felonies of possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver while having a firearm, a Class C felony of unlawful possession of a firearm by a violent felon, and two misdemeanors—providing false information to law enforcement and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

He and Natalie Dawn Apland, 46, were arrested Nov. 25 during a traffic stop on North Dakota Highway 17 in Park River. A Walsh County deputy stopped the vehicle around 2:30 a.m. near Hill Avenue South for failing to dim their headlights as they passed the sheriff's vehicle, according to a criminal complaint against Lopez.

After noticing a "strong odor" coming from the vehicle that officers determined was the smell of marijuana, investigators searched the vehicle and found a loaded handgun, a half-pound of meth, an ounce of black tar heroin, a pound of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to court documents.

Lopez initially told officers his name was Sandro Anthony Lopez, according to the complaint.

Apland initially was charged with three Class A felony counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver and two misdemeanor counts of possessing drug paraphernalia, but two of the charges—one for having paraphernalia and the other for intending to deliver a controlled substance—were dismissed Friday. Her initial appearance in Walsh County District Court is set for Monday.

Lopez also faces two Class C felonies—unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and possessing drug paraphernalia—and three misdemeanor counts of possessing a controlled substance in Williams County District Court. Those charges stem from a search warrant served Nov. 27 at Lopez's home at 2600 University Ave. in Williston, where officers said they found two hydrocodone pills, meth, THC wax, a handgun, ammunition and drug paraphernalia, according to charging documents.

Lopez did not have a valid prescription for hydrocodone at the time of the arrest. He also is prohibited from owning a gun since he pleaded guilty in October 2014 to multiple felonies, including robbery.

A Class A felony carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. A Class C felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Park River is about 60 miles northwest of Grand Forks.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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