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Men arrested in Cottage Grove after police report finding meth in vehicle

Two men were arrested after police allegedly found 8 grams of methamphetamine in their vehicle.

John Joseph Smith, 32, of Faribault, and 49-year-old Craig L. Tchida, who didn’t have a permanent address, were arrested and charged with second-degree possession of at least 6 grams of methamphetamine in Washington County District Court after their vehicle was searched by Cottage Grove police on June 25.

According to the criminal complaint:

The men parked at Holiday gas station, 8101 Hadley Ave., at 4 a.m. Gas station staff believed they were acting suspicious because they parked in an area used by employees and then sat in the vehicle for 10 minutes, and then one of the suspects went into the store and was shuffling something in his pants.

When police arrived, Tchida went into the store bathroom, then exited and bought cigarettes and returned to the bathroom for about 10 minutes. Police could hear the toilet flush multiple times and the towel dispenser used numerous times.

After initially refusing a police request to exit, Tchida left the bathroom. Authorities found Tchida’s cellphone broken and wet beneath towels in the garbage.

Meanwhile, “Smith was animated, fidgety, nervous and appeared to be acting suspiciously,” the complaint says. The vehicle wasn’t registered to Smith or Tchida and was linked to previous drug activity.

A police K9 unit was called and the dog hit on a scent near the passenger seat. Police found a potato chip bag on the floor under and behind the seat. It contained a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine and weighted 8.4 grams.

In separate interviews, each man tried to blame the other.

Smith said Tchida was a meth dealer, that he had sold the drug to people throughout the night, that he flushed meth down the bathroom toilet and that they were there because someone owed Tchida money.

Tchida told police Smith was a dealer and they were at the gas station to meet one of Smith’s buyers.

Each man faces a felony charge that carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and $500,000 fine if it’s the first conviction.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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