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DV case leads to federal drug charges


A domestic violence case investigated by Navajo Nation Police in October 2019 has led to federal drug charges filed in Prescott on June 4 against a Kayenta man.

Melville Jim Hathalie, no age given, was charged with possession to distribute meth. He is currently being held in federal custody by the U. S. Marshal’s Office in Prescott.

According to court records, the Kayenta police received a call about 5:45 p.m. on Oct. 22, 2019, from Hathalie with his domestic partner, Denise Begay. He said Begay had a 9 mm pistol and was “acting out.”

The first police officer on the scene said he saw Begay running to the rear of the house. He followed her and encountered Hathalie who told him that he had wanted Begay to leave the house and he was in the process of removing her possessions from the house. This included a 9 mm handgun.

He said he kept possession of the gun until he removed all of her possessions. When that was done, he said he gave the gun to Begay who took it back into the house. He said he saw her put a bullet in the gun and cocked it. He decided to go to his father’s home, taking his daughters with him.

He gave police permission to search his home. He was put in the back of a patrol unit while officers interviewed Begay who they said appeared to be intoxicated.

She told police, according to the court records, that the two had, had a verbal argument earlier and she had decided to leave, taking her possessions with her. This included the pistol she had purchased for him.

She said when Hathalie gave her the gun she cocked it and noticed a bullet fall out of it. She picked it up and put the clip in her pocket. She said she did not know where the pistol was located.

With permission of the house’s owner, police began searching the house, finding a shotgun in the children’s room and a backpack in a closet of the children’s room. Inside the backpack was a glass pipe and two baggies contained a white crystal-like substance.

Further searching found several more baggies of the same substance in the fireplace and on a counter in the living room. The 9 mm pistol was found in Hathalie’s room. It had one bullet in the chamber.
After police informed Hathalie of what they had found during the search, court records stated he “dropped his head” and asked officers what kind of jail time he was looking at.

He added that the drugs that were believed to be meth were solely for his personal use. When he was arrested, a search of his person uncovered more drugs.

The drugs were sent to the state lab for testing. The total weight, without packing, was 116.68 grams. FBI agents conducted a follow up investigation earlier this month and gave the OK to police officers to narrow it down where the drugs were found.

The conclusion of FBI agents was that the quantity of drugs that were confiscated, as well as the packaging and the presence of guns all points to the drugs being distributed for sale.

On June 1, Begay was interviewed by FBI agents and she admitted that she had purchased the handgun from an unknown party for about $350. She said she did not purchase any ammunition for the gun and would not have known what kind of ammunition and size to buy.

She said she had not been living with him and had no knowledge about the drugs found in the house.

When she was arrested in October 2019, court records stated she had small amounts of drugs on her person when she was searched. This was handled by the tribal courts as a misdemeanor.

About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.


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