Four Mankato residents facing drug sale charges

At least four Mankato residents are facing first-degree drug sale charges following two separate investigations by the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force.

According to court documents, agents began investigating a drug overdose at a Mankato bar on October 1.  A witness told police he had purchased cocaine from a man named “Jake,” who was later identified as Jacob Dean Daninger.  The witness told agents he had purchased cocaine a number of times from Daninger at the back door of the bar.

On October 16, agents performed a search warrant to swab Daninger’s Mankato apartment door handle, which was analyzed and tested positive for cocaine, according to the complaint.

On October 18, agents learned that Briana Marilyn Knewtson also lived at the apartment.

Briana Knewtson, Blue Earth County Jail

A search warrant was performed inside the apartment on October 25.  The criminal complaint says cocaine was out in plain view in the living room, so Daninger and Knewtson were placed under arrest.

The complaint says agents discovered nearly 4.5 ounces of cocaine in the apartment, as well as $28,000 in case, 15 alprazolam pills, multiple baggies containing a substance believed to contain fentanyl, eight small tin cans with more baggies containing apparent drugs, a digital scale with white residue, and other items.

Daninger, 27, and Knewtson, 31, each face three felony counts of 1st-degree drug sales in Blue Earth County Court.  They are also charged with felony counts of 3rd-degree and 5th-degree drug possession.

Benjamin Mercado Jr, Blue Earth County Jail

Another pair of residents is also facing charges after a controlled drug purchase by the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force.

A criminal complaint says a witness arranged to buy cocaine from Benjamin Mercado Jr, 34, at a Mankato business.

The complaint says Mercado hopped in the witness vehicle to discuss the transaction, and said they needed to wait until his “girl” got back from the bank.

Stephanie Clark, Blue Earth County Jail

A vehicle registered to Stephanie Daw Clark, 23, arrived, according to the complaint, which says Mercado then got out of the witness’s vehicle, grabbed an ounce of cocaine from Clark’s vehicle, and completed the transaction with the witness.

Agents say the cocaine weighed nearly 28 grams and cost $1,000.

Mercado and Clark have each been charged in Blue Earth County Court with 1st-degree drug sales.  Clark also faces a 3rd-degree drug possession charge, and Mercado was charged with 1st-degree drug possession.


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