Thursday, April 26, 2001

At Drug Enforcement Agency headquarters in Honolulu,
HPD Capt. Kevin Lima holds up some of the "ice" and
money confiscated in the raids. In back is DEA
special agent Thomas Kelly.

Feds seize
core of ‘ice’
trafficking ring

Drug raids in Hawaii and
two California cities yield 7
arrests, guns, cash and more

By Rod Antone

Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested seven people and seized approximately $300,000 to $350,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, during a series of weekend raids.

DEA special agent Thomas Kelly said the raids were part of an ongoing investigation that pointed to a major ice distribution scheme that sold drugs trafficked from California.

When asked to describe the size of the operation, Kelly said that in less than a year, "50 to 100 kilos would not be out of reach." There are 2.2 kilos in a pound.

"This is a very significant seizure here in Hawaii and would be a major seizure even on the mainland," said Kelly.

The raids took place on April 22 and 23 and involved the execution of 17 different search warrants at homes, businesses, vehicles, a storage locker and a piece of luggage. During the raids, agents seized seven pounds of "high-quality" ice, $76,000 cash, several firearms and eight vehicles, including a BMW and a Lexus. The vehicles were worth an estimated $143,000.

Two of the search warrants were executed in two California cities, Gardena and Carson. Agents arrested two men whom Kelly described as "couriers," or people who brought the crystal meth to the islands for distribution.

The other five people arrested have home addresses listed in Kapolei, Pearl City, Waipahu and Wahiawa. According to Kelly, the operation's leader was a 33-year-old Kapolei man who lived on Keokolo Street.

"With us able to obtain this amount of drugs in one sweep is going to put a significant dent at least in the Kapolei and that area of the Honolulu downtown area," said Kelly.

Kelly said the drug bust and seizure was in fact a "spinoff" investigation from an older case that started in 1997. According to Kelly, this particular ice distribution operation had been in effect for a couple of years and was "one of the main organizations" on Oahu.

Kelly also said he expects more arrests in the case.

"We think we got most of the folks," Kelly said. "There are some people that we've been looking at that may turn themselves in."

The investigation was the work of a joint task force made up of agents and officers from the DEA, IRS, Honolulu Police Department, U.S. Customs Service, INS and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

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