Judge finds enough evidence for man to face drug charges

Police report finding crystal meth in soda ‘stash can’

WAILUKU — A Maui police officer testified he found crystal methamphetamine in a “stash can” of A&W Root Beer in a Wailuku man’s residence along with 5 grams of crystal methamphetamine in the man’s wallet during the execution of a search warrant on the man and his residence in February.

Officer Aaron Souza of the Maui Police Department’s Vice Narcotics Section said Monday afternoon that he and two other officers also found a crystal methamphetamine pipe with drug residue in a mesh sunglasses bag that was inside Desmondlee Catchapiro’s shorts waistband. It was tied to the button hole of his shorts.

Two other crystal methamphetamine pipes were found in a shirt pocket hanging in the closet of the 33-year-old man’s Wailuku home. Police reported they found a silver digital scale and a collapsible baton.

During a preliminary hearing, Souza said he found methamphetamine “knock-outs” in a “stash can” of root beer. He explained that the can is cut and drugs are placed in it to make it look and feel like a regular can of soda.

Souza explained to Deputy Prosecutor Ronson Ibarra that “knock-outs” are the leftover methamphetamine that comes from the bulbous end of the drug pipe and can be re-smoked.

Souza said that when he and two other officers approached Catchapiro around 11 a.m. Feb. 27 outside his residence at 1543 B Koene Place in Wailuku, Catchapiro initially said he “was just a user” and that police wouldn’t find drugs on him or in the home.

Police had search warrants for both Catchapiro and his residence, which Souza said is within 750 feet from St. Anthony Schools.

Later, Souza said that at the police station, Catchapiro took ownership of the seized items and said he sold drugs to supplement his income.

During cross-examination, Deputy Public Defender Heather Brown asked Souza if the search warrant specifically named Catchapiro’s backpack and his wallet, which was in the backpack.

Souza said no.

Brown also asked if the backpack and wallet were both closed when police found them. Souza confirmed they were closed.

Brown asked if Catchapiro had an attorney with him or spoke to an attorney after he was taken to the police station and questioned again. Souza said “no.”

Earlier, Souza confirmed that Catchapiro was read his Miranda rights.

Wailuku District Court Per Diem Judge Michelle Drewyer ruled there was enough probable cause to uphold the charges against Catchapiro.

He is charged with first-degree attempted promotion of a dangerous drug; second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug; promoting a controlled substance in, on, or near schools, school vehicles, public parks or public housing projects or complexes; and two counts of prohibited acts related to drug paraphernalia.

Drewyer maintained bail at $35,000 for Catchapiro. He remains confined at Maui Community Correctional Center.

Ibarra said that Catchapiro had already gotten his bail reduced last week from $150,000.

Brown said her client requested supervised release because he’s a life-long Maui resident and is employed.

Catchapiro is scheduled for arraignment and plea March 13 in 2nd Circuit Court.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.