Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Big Isle drug suspect
granted release on bond

The cattle shipper is among five accused
of using containers to run crystal meth

A federal magistrate has granted the release of a Big Island man accused of conspiring with four others to transport about 20 pounds of methamphetamine and cash between California and Hawaii, using cattle containers.

But federal Magistrate Leslie Kobayashi ordered Shawn Aguiar to post a $50,000 bond -- secured with $15,000 in cash -- and prohibited him from leaving Hawaii.

Aguiar, who runs a cattle-shipping business and currently has 600 head of cattle en route to Texas, asked the court yesterday to allow him to travel to the mainland to meet the shipment, but withdrew the request.

Although 20 pounds of methamphetamine has been mentioned, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Thomas told the court the activity is alleged to have been ongoing since 2001, and that a more accurate figure would involve 100 to 150 pounds of methamphetamine.

"We're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars of drugs," Thomas told the court yesterday.

The government is also concerned because the alleged supplier, Eric Castro, was ordered released by a California magistrate on a $500,000 bond, Thomas said. Prosecutors are appealing that decision. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor ordered that Castro's release by U.S. Magistrate Gregory G. Hollows be stayed.

Earlier this month, Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang ordered that Kale Ornellas, a rodeo rider from Waimanalo, and brothers Audwin J. and Randolph D. Aiwohi be detained without bail at the government's request. Castro is scheduled to be arraigned here on June 27.

Defense attorney Pamela Tower O'Leary argued in court that her client is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community, noting that had been coming and going for the past three weeks.

All five individuals were named in an eight-count indictment filed May 26 charging them with conspiracy and multiple counts of distribution, possession with intent to distribute and using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of methamphetamine.

According to the indictment, Aguiar is alleged to have transported about $125,000 in cash to Castro in April from Hawaii to California in a cattle container.

During that same period, Aguiar allegedly received 9 1/2 pounds of methamphetamine from Castro and transported the drugs to Hawaii via cattle containers. Aguiar allegedly distributed the drugs to the Aiwohis and Ornellas, the indictment said.

The month before, Castro allegedly shipped 8 1/2 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in a 1994 Jeep Cherokee.

The investigation is ongoing. Meanwhile, trial has been set for July 26. Attorneys for the other defendants declined comment.

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