Surfing brothers face prison
Two Kauai brothers, founders of the Nalu Underground surf magazine, will likely spend years behind bars after getting arrested in June with three kilograms of cocaine in their suitcases.
Michael Smith, who also played rhythm guitar in the band Kairoots, is expected to plead guilty in Los Angeles federal court Thursday to one charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. His brother, Curtis Smith, pleaded guilty to the same charge in September and will be sentenced in February.
The brothers, who started the Nalu Underground surf magazine in 2004 to showcase local surf talent, were arrested in June at Los Angeles Airport by an official with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The brothers were booked on a Los Angeles-to-Lihue flight, according to court documents, when officials found Michael Smith had three cylindrical packages in his suitcase that contained a kilogram of cocaine. Curtis Smith also had three cylinders in his suitcase that contained about two kilos of coke, documents said. A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds.
According to their statements to a DEA agent, contained in court documents, Michael Smith admitted transporting coke from California for the past eight years. The smugglers would buy cocaine for about $23,000, typically transport it in their suitcases and then sell it in Hawaii for $30,000, the documents said.
Both Smith brothers had been charged with possession of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute the drug. In Curtis Smith's case, the possession charge was dropped when he pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge.
The prosecutor in both cases, Rasha Gerges, assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, said she would not confirm any plea deal, but she did say the hearing scheduled for Thursday is set for a change of plea or a status update. The hearing was originally scheduled for yesterday.
Gerges added that each charge carries a statutory minimum of five years in jail and a maximum of 40 years. She added that the judge does have the opportunity to lower the minimum in certain rare circumstances.
Calls to the Nalu Underground office were not returned.