EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 10, 2013

Police: Car drew attention to two men

Swerving, loud vehicle with missing taillight led to arrests on drug charges

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — Two men arrested on drug charges couldn’t have done more to draw attention to themselves, police said.

As their car traveled from Haverhill over the Groveland Bridge into Groveland Square on Tuesday night, an officer said he noticed the car had a noisy muffler. He followed the car and noticed it had a burned-out taillight and was weaving, crossing over the double center yellow lines, police said.

When the officer stopped the car, the driver and his male passenger reeked of marijuana and their eyes were bloodshot and glassy, police said. What began as a routine traffic stop ended in the arrest of the men, who had about a quarter-pound of marijuana in the car and nearly $2,600 in cash, police said.

The driver of the car — Michael Gonzalez, 21, of 12 Freeman St., Apt. 3, Haverhill — was charged with operating under the influence of drugs, possession of a Class D drug with intent to distribute, failure to stay within marked lanes, defective equipment, possession of a Class D drug within 100 feet of a park and procuring alcohol for a minor.

The passenger — Eric Allis, 20, of Danvers — was charged with possession of a Class D drug with intent to distribute, possession within 100 feet of a park, and being a minor in possession of alcohol. Both men were arraigned on the charges yesterday in Haverhill District Court, where each was held on $5,000 cash bail. According to court documents, Allis is on probation in two other courts.

Gonzalez’s defense lawyer, Ana Crnilovic, requested money from the court to hire an investigator. Judge Stephen Abany granted the request.

Groveland police Chief Robert Kirmelewicz said that about 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Detective James Morton noticed a car crossing the Groveland Bridge into Groveland. Morton wrote in his report that a blue Subaru Impreza crossed the bridge and turned onto Main Street. When the car passed him, he could hear it had a loud exhaust, he said. Morton followed the car and noticed one tail light bulb was out. He said the car then began to cross the double yellow center lines.

Morton pulled over the car on Main Street near the Pines Recreation Area due to defective equipment and a marked lanes violation, police said. When Morton approached the car, the driver and his passenger appeared nervous and their eyes were bloodshot and glassy, according to his report. He said the passenger was manipulating something with his feet, which turned out to be a weighing scale. When Morton asked what the scale was for, neither man answered, police said.

Gonzalez told Morton it was his uncle’s car and that his uncle was in Puerto Rico. Asked if his uncle knew he was driving his car, Gonzalez said he was not sure, police said. After noticing an odor of alcohol as well as marijuana on Gonzalez’s breath, Morton conducted a field sobriety test. He said Gonzalez started and stopped the test several times, failing in each attempt. Morton said Allis also had a strong odor of marijuana on his breath.

Morton called for backup and was assisted by Officer David Shanahan.

Morton arrested Gonzalez, who was carrying a wallet that was “stuffed wide open full of money,” according to the police report. Morton later noted it amounted to $1,877. Morton said the cell phones of both men rang repeatedly during the traffic stop. Allis had a small bag of marijuana and $712 in cash on him, Morton said.

Morton searched the back seat of the car and said he found about a quarter-pound of marijuana in a red backpack.

Both men were held without bail overnight pending their arraignments yesterday in Haverhill District Court.

According to Morton’s report, the two men were on their way to a Groveland home known for drug activity.