Tough times prompted drug use, Worthington man reportedly says during traffic stop resulting in firearms and drug charges

After a traffic stop, John Thammavongsa and Dao Keovilay were arrested for allegedly possessing firearms. The two men also were charged with felony-level drug possession.

WORTHINGTON — John Thammavongsa, 29, and Dao Keovilay, 28, both of Worthington, have each been charged with felony counts of firearms and drug possession..

On Nov. 23, a Worthington Police officer initiated a traffic stop for non-functioning license plate lights on a pick-up. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer recognized the occupants as Thammavongsa, who was driving, and Keovilay, from prior police contacts. While speaking with the men, the officer reportedly noticed the handle of a handgun sticking out from underneath a black backpack on the back passenger seat. The officer was aware that Thammavongsa and Keovilay both had prior felony-level arrests, and requested assistance. Another officer arrived shortly after and Thammavongsa and Keovilay were asked to step out of the vehicle.

One officer asked Thammavongsa if he had any weapons on his person. Thammavongsa reportedly stated he had a gun on his side. The officer retrieved a .22 caliber pistol from Thammavongsa’s left hip, as well as a pipe with white residue that later tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the report.

The other officer allegedly retrieved the 9mm handgun, spotted earlier, from the vehicle. Both guns were loaded with ammunition, which was removed by the officers. A review of both Thammavongsa and Keovilay’s criminal histories showed felony convictions that prohibited them from possessing firearms and ammunition.

Upon being arrested, Thammavongsa reportedly agreed to give a statement to one officer and said there was a green backpack in the back seat that belonged to him and contained bullets.


Keovilay also agreed to give a statement. He said he had driven the truck to Thammavongsa's house about a half hour before the traffic stop and that there were two black bags in the backseat. Keovilay declined to answer when questioned about who the bags and handgun belonged to.

The officers searched the vehicle and located the bags. One reportedly contained an empty gun case for a Glock handgun and the other bag held fishing tackle. The green bag that Thammavongsa had identified as his had locks on the zippers, for which Thammavongsa gave officers the key to unlock. He told officers again that there was ammunition inside the bag.

In the driver seat map pocket, an officer found a second glass pipe that later tested positive for methamphetamine. Thammavongsa told the officer that he was going through tough times and started to use recently. He stated the gun and the pipe found on his person and the bullets in the green backpack were his.

The second officer arrested Keovilay, who allegedly stated he possibly had a used baggie in his sock, which the officer advised be removed once he arrived at the jail. Thammavongsa and Keovilay were transported to the Nobles County Jail. A baggie was removed from Keovilay’s sock that contained white residue.

After running the serial number, the .22 caliber handgun came up as stolen, which Thammavongsa denied being aware of when questioned.

After being booked in jail, Keovilay requested to speak with an officer. During this time, Keovilay reportedly stated that he would claim ownership of everything that was found in the vehicle, along with the handgun found on Thammavongsa. Keovilay said Thammavongsa was doing well and needed to be released for his wife and children.

If convicted, Thammavongsa and Keovilay face a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine for each of the firearm possession charges. The drug possession charge carries a maximum five years imprisonment with a potential $10,000 fine and the drug paraphernalia charge has a maximum $300 fine.


Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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