Seat belt violation stop yields drug charges for Big Island trio

Initial court appearance for three suspects Monday after meth found in stolen car

 UPDATED 1:50 PM HST Aug 26, 2013
HILO, Hawaii -

What began as a simple traffic stop for a seat belt violation has now transpired into drug charges for three people on the Big Island.

On Thursday police stopped a car being driven by 22-year-old Nakalohe Gersaba in North Kohala. After determining that Gersaba was operating a stolen vehicle and that one of his passengers, 36-year-old Rico Echiverri, had an outstanding warrant they arrested the three occupants.

During their investigation into the vehicle, police found 6.4 grams of a "crystalline substance" and paraphernalia commonly associated with meth use.

As a result, all three occupants of the vehicle, including the other female passenger 24-year-old Zerica Bell-Ching of Kapa?au, were charged with promoting dangerous drugs and possession of paraphernalia that Friday.

Gersaba was additionally charged with driving without a license or insurance. Hi bail was set at $37,000 with possible stolen vehicle charges pending.

Echiverri was also charged with contempt of court and violating probation. His bail was set at $135,000.

Bell-Ching's bail was set at $7,000.

All three were held at the cellblock over the weekend.

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