Sting near school nabs 7
A seven-month undercover drug sting netted four Kalihi men and two Kalihi girls on charges of distribution of crystal methamphetamine near Kalihi Uka Elementary School.
A fifth Kalihi man was arrested and charged in state court for allegedly distributing imitation drugs in the area. All seven were arrested yesterday.
Four of the men were arrested yesterday on federal warrants after being indicted by a grand jury for possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, and face stiffer sentences if convicted in federal court than they would have had they been charged in state court.
Kalihi Maj. Kurt Kendro said Operation Kalihi Valley Ice resulted in the arrests yesterday of Nalu Kamaka, 23, Larry Ordinado Jr., 25, Danmar Galapia, 27, and Joshua Gonda, 18.
Jaime Uganiza, 31, was arrested on a fake drug distribution charge at his home.
Kendro said the two 17-year-old girls were the first juveniles he has seen charged with drug distribution in his 18 years at the Kalihi station. (No juvenile system exists in federal court, he said.)
Kendro said the seven were caught on the Nihi Street side of the elementary school during daylight hours, while school was in session. Police are uncertain whether the drugs were sold to schoolchildren or were dealt at the school.
Undercover police made at least a dozen buys.
Because of the proximity to a school, the suspects face enhanced sentencing if convicted, possibly up to 20 years' imprisonment, Kendro said.
Kendro said the seven suspects were not part of an organized ring of drug dealers, but are casually connected. He said the case remains under investigation.
Three of the men were already in custody on unrelated charges.
Kalihi police had initially responded to residents complaints of drug-dealing in the area of Stanley and Kopke streets. Efforts by a neighborhood watch initiated by City Councilman Romy Cachola's office pushed the drug distribution activity away from that area.
"Part of the solution is to get the community involved," Kendro said.
The activity, however, resurfaced in the area of Nihi and Laumaile streets near the school, Kendro said.
Kamaka, Galapia and Ordinado are currently in custody at the Oahu Community Correctional Center and are expected to be arraigned in U.S. District Court tomorrow.
Information on Gonda is in a sealed file.
Star-Bulletin reporter Debra Barayuga contributed to this report.