19 arrested in major East Hawaii drug sweep 03-04-04

PHONE: 961-2251
MARCH 4, 2004


Mounting a joint operation, county, state and federal law enforcement officers executed a major drug sweep, executing 11 search warrants in East Hawaii.

A total of 58 officers took part in the raids, which resulted in the arrest of 19 suspects in the Districts of Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo and Puna.

The drug sweep, dubbed “Operation Meltdown III,” was part of a continuing effort at focusing on high level drug dealers of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice,” and other hard drugs.

Taking part in the operation were officers from the East Hawaii Ice Task Force and Vice Section, the four county police departments, the State Narcotics Enforcement Division, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.

Search warrants were served on two residences in Hamakua, two residences in North Hilo, four residences and a vehicle in South Hilo and one residence and a business — AK Pizza of Pahoa — in Puna.

The warrants resulted in the arrest of two persons in Hamakua, two in North Hilo, 11 in South Hilo and four in Puna.

Officers confiscated about one-half ounce of crystal methamphetamine, about two grams of heroin, 111 marijuana plants and a number of pills. They also confiscated items of illegal drug paraphernalia, three illegal firearms, two motorcycles, a 2004 Toyota sedan and $3,485 in cash. Police said they will seek federal prosecution for the firearms offenses.

Captain Samuel Thomas, head of the East Hawaii Criminal Investigation Division, said the raids may not have resulted in the recovery of large amounts of illegal drugs.

“But the operation had a huge impact on the community in shutting down several ice houses and illegal drug operations,” Thomas said. “In fact, neighbors cheered when our officers busted an ice house in Panaewa.”

Thomas said “Operation Meltdown III” is part of the department’s on-going efforts to curtail illegal drug activity in Hawaii County.

“We will continue to investigate, arrest and prosecute anyone involved in trafficking dangerous drugs,” he said. “Their illegal activities have affected many families on the Big Island and have ruined the lives of many of our young people.”

Thursday’s drug sweep was the third of “Operation Meltdown.” Previous joint operations were staged in January and April last year. During the previous sweeps, a total of 32 people were arrested for various drug offenses.

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