21 arrested in major drug sweep 01-08-03

PHONE: 961-2244
JANUARY 8, 2003


Big Island police arrested 21 persons — 20 adults and one juvenile — in a major sweep Wednesday (January 8, 2003) of drug houses in East Hawaii.

Assisted in the joint operation by personnel from other county, state and federal agencies, police officers raided eight Puna and Hilo residences in which illegal drug activities were reportedly taking place.

Police also confiscated one automobile in which illegal drugs were recovered as the result of a search warrant.

Dubbed “Operation Meltdown,” the effort resulted in raids on six residences in Puna — two in Hawaiian Beaches, two in Ainaloa Estates, one in Keaau and one in Kurtistown — and two residences in Hilo.

The first raid occurred about 7 a.m.; the last, about 4 p.m.

Acting on search warrants, officers recovered a total of 10.5 ounces of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice”; 13.3 ounces of cocaine; 34 marijuana plants; 7 ounces of dried marijuana; various types of prescription drugs; and numerous scales, containers, packets and pipes used in drug distribution and consumption.

In addition, police confiscated three rifles, three handguns, various types of ammunition and $6,083 in cash.

During the raids, police also served bench warrants on five adults. The warrants were unrelated to the raids.

Assisting vice officers in the raid were officers from the Community Policing Program, Special Response Team, Juvenile Aid Section, Criminal Investigation Section and Administrative Services as well as patrol officers from the various East Hawaii patrol districts; officers from the Kauai and Maui Police Departments; members of the Hawaii National Guard and the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the State Department of Public Safety; and federal agents from the U.S. Customs Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

“Today we have dealt a major blow to illegal drug operations on the Big Island,” Police Chief Lawrence K. Mahuna said, thanking personnel from other agencies for their assistance.

Mahuna said the county will “explore the options of federal prosecution” against those arrested in the drug crackdown. Generally, federal penalties for illegal drug activities are more severe than those of the state.

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

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

The crackdown on drug houses was made after police had received numerous complaints from the community.

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