Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On July 18, 2023, a Missoula Police Department officer was in the area of N. Reserve and observed a white 1997 Isuzu Rodeo traveling in front of his patrol car. The officer ran the plate and it returned to a gray 1998 Ford Explorer which was also expired. 

The officer conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and found the driver to be 42-year-old Lee Zavarelli-Dexter. The vehicle was also occupied by a passenger. The officer made contact with Lee who stated he had bought the vehicle that day but had not done any of the paperwork.  

Officer Observes Drug Activity in the Vehicle

While speaking with Lee, the officer observed a touch-style lighter in the center console and numerous cut plastic tubes. The officer also observed a small clear container with a brown substance tucked behind Lee’s back, near the left pants pocket and it appeared as though Lee was attempting to conceal it. The officer also found that Lee had a suspended license and an outstanding warrant. 

Lee was placed under arrest for his warrant and the officer then spoke with the passenger. The officer opened the vehicle’s door and unintentionally kicked what appeared to be a small wood box on the passenger floorboard. The box opened and an open-ended glass pipe with a bulbous end containing white residue and burn marks appeared to fall out onto the floorboard. The officer recognized the pipe as the type used to ingest drugs. 

Officer Locates More Drugs and Paraphernalia

The officer also observed an unidentified white pill on the front passenger seat. The passenger was then informed that she was being detained and upon inquiry, stated the green backpack was hers. According to court documents, she stated the glass pipe was used for meth and belonged to Lee. 

The officer then made contact with Lee and noted he was sweating profusely, which Lee explained was the result of hyperthyroidism. The officer advised Lee of his Miranda rights and Lee agreed to speak. When asked about the container in his back, Lee stated it was dabs. Lee went on to identify the wood box as his and all contents of the vehicle were his, with the exception of the passenger’s backpack. 

Officer Conducts a Thorough Search of the Vehicle

A search warrant was later conducted on the vehicle and yielded one small runner container with a brown tar-like substance and one blue M30 pill, which were found between the driver’s seat and the center console. The brown substance was later weighed, and NIK tested, showing a presumptive positive for heroin. 

Within the center console, the officer found an open-ended glass tube with burn marks, an open-ended glass pipe with a bulbous end containing white residue and burn marks, two open-ended glass pipes, and an open-ended pen tube. 

Lee Zavarelli-Dexter is currently being charged with felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia. 

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable.

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