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Drug arrest in Rochester leads to massive cash recovery in Wabasha County

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ELGIN, Minn. (FOX 47) -- The arrest of an Elgin man leads to a pound of methamphetamine and the largest cash seizure ever for Wabasha County.

The investigation started with a package postmarked "Minneapolis" that caught the attention of Rochester postal workers on Wednesday.

Police and postal workers found a pound of meth inside, resealed it and sent it on to a vacant house on the 5000 block of 10th Street Northwest on Wednesday afternoon. Members of the Southeast Minnesota Narcotics Task Force were there and arrested Daniel Gernes, 49, of Elgin, who came to pick up the drugs.

Officers said Gernes rammed his vehicle into a police car trying to get away but was arrested a short time later.

Gernes' arrest led to a search of a home at 45 4th Avenue S.W. in Elgin on Thursday. That's where deputies say they found close to $60,000 -- the largest cash seizure ever in Wabasha County.

Authorities also carried out another search warrant Thursday at Pioneer Campground near Wabasha -- the place where deputies say Gernes camped.

A search turned up a stolen assault rifle from Illinois, a small amount of marijuana and meth.

"This is a significant case not only for our county but for southeast Minnesota," Wabasha County Sheriff Rodney Bartsh said.  "These cases are so labor intensive but the results in this one paid off. Taking a pound of meth off the streets that were likely intended for Wabasha County is huge. It's truly unfortunate that there is still such a demand for such a destructive drug."

Gernes is at the Adult Detention Center in Rochester facing drug and assault charges. You might be wondering what will happen to the $60,000. It will go to the Southeast Minnesota Narcotics Task Force to help stop drug dealers.

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