HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
EAST HAWAII VICE SECTION
LIEUTENANT NORMAN KEAMO
OCTOBER 28, 2003
Hawaii County Police along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) dismantled a large methamphetamine smuggling operation on the Big Island over the past weekend, as a result of a three-month long investigation.
On October 25, 2003, Hilo Vice and Ice Task Force Officers along with DEA Agents, assisted by South Kohala Patrol and Kona Criminal Intelligence Unit officers, arrested Jose Prieto, M-34, who was in possession of 340 grams (three quarters of a pound) of crystal methamphetamine, with a street value of over $25,000. Further investigation connected Prieto to a large Mexican drug trafficking organization based in Kona, responsible for smuggling in excess of 20 pounds of crystal methamphetamine a month into the Big Island from California, and then distributing it throughout the island.
As a result, search warrants were executed on October 26, 2003 (Sunday) at two residences and one business establishment, “Tacos El Unico”, in Kona. Two male parties, Jose Mejia, M-56, the head of the organization, and Eric Mejia, M-24, were arrested, and along with Prieto have since been transported to Honolulu for Federal prosecution. All three parties appeared in Federal Court on October 27, 2003 (Monday) for their initial arraignment, and face minimum mandatory sentences of 10 years to a maximum of life in prison. Another arrest, Eduardo Peralta, M-32, was made on October 27, 2003 (Monday) in Hilo and police continue to seek additional suspects in connection with this organization for Federal prosecution.
Police have thus far seized several vehicles, firearms, and over $35,000 in U.S. currency in connection with this investigation.
This investigation has been part of the Hawaii County Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration’s ongoing efforts to target methamphetamine smuggling operations and curtail the flow of illegal narcotics into and throughout the County and State of Hawaii.