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Minneapolis man charged with felony drug possession

Sai Vang

A Minneapolis man faces four charges of felony drug possession after a traffic stop found numerous different kinds of drugs in his car earlier this year.

Sai Vang, 32, was charged April 28 with first-degree sale of 17 grams or more of cocaine or methamphetamine within a 90-day period, second-degree possession of 25 grams or more of cocaine or methamphetamine, the sale of marijuana in the fifth degree and possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree.

Vang has a long history of prior criminal activities in several counties in Minnesota including possession or sale of stolen or counterfeit check, theft of motor vehicle and third degree burglary, among others.

According to the criminal complaint:

Carlton County Sheriff's Office Deputy Tory Cawcutt was on a routine patrol in Cloquet at 2:10 a.m. April 26 when he observed a vehicle parked in front of a house known for drug activity. Cawcutt parked his marked squad car a few blocks down the road. Soon after, a vehicle left the residence and drove towards the deputy and through a stop sign. The driver of the vehicle stopped in the middle of the intersection and blocked the eastbound lane of Carlton Avenue. As Cawcutt watched, the driver waited several seconds before turning left and traveling west on Carlton Avenue. At that point the deputy followed the car and pulled the driver over.

Cawcutt approached the passenger side window to speak with the driver, eventually identified as Vang. The strong smell of marijuana drifted out as the window was rolled down by passenger Ashley Elizabeth Gald, 28, of La Crosse, Wis.

Vang admitted driving through the stop sign. When the deputy called in Vang's identification, he discovered Vang was driving with a revoked driver's license.

When Vang was questioned about the marijuana odor emanating from the car, he said he had a marijuana joint, or blunt, in the front console. Vang gave permission to have both himself and his vehicle searched by the deputy.

The deputy and assisting officers discovered a black cardboard box containing a large amount of drug paraphernalia and other items necessary for packaging and selling drugs, including a gray digital scale, several empty bindle bags, a metal weight used to check scale accuracy and a green bindle bag that contained approximately 23.7 grams of crystal methamphetamine.

The search also turned up a small deluxe vanity kit containing a glass pipe commonly used to smoke methamphetamine as well as more methamphetamine.

A large amount of marijuana was found in a glass jar and more was found in a gallon size ziplock bag totalling about 285 grams.

The deputy and other officers discovered methamphetamine packaged and ready for sale in 10 bindle-style bags. The street name for the amount of methamphetamine is "eightball." The officers field tested and weighed all of the methamphetamine found in the vehicle and the total was 46.6 grams, according to the complaint.

The maximum penalties for the charges are 75 years and $1,112,300 for a first time conviction.

Vang's next court appearance is set for Friday, June 23, with Judge Leslie Beiers for a contested omnibus hearing at the Carlton County Courthouse.

Vang's passenger, Gald, pleaded guilty May 17 and was convicted of third-degree possession of 10 grams or more of a narcotic drug other than heroin. She was sentenced May 22 to the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee for 27 months; however, the sentence was stayed for three years and she is on supervised probation with court fees totalling $210. Credit for time served was 27 days.

Gald is required to complete a chemical use assessment in her home county and follow the recommendations, which she will document as required. Her review hearing is set for Nov. 15.