Maui News

CA Man Arraigned in Hawai’i Meth Trafficking Case

July 21, 2011, 10:26 AM HST
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By Wendy Osher

A California man pleaded not guilty in federal District Court on Tuesday of charges relating to a meth trafficking case in Hawai’i.  The meth distribution ring was described by special agents as “one of the larger and more lucrative” rings operating in islands.

John Tai, 43, of Carson, California was charged along with eight others in a superseding indictment, for allegedly conspiring to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

According to the superseding indictment, Tai is accused of supplying methamphetamine to other co-defendants in several transactions, ranging from one to four pounds, between March 2009 to February 2010.

A grand jury had previously indicted the other defendants on May 26, 2011. Honolulu residents Fouina C. Toilolo, 40, Aloalii Tootoo, 39, Jordan Fonoti, 22, Pulaa Gatoloai, 38, Harry Akana, 35, and Daniel Fola, 27, were arrested in Hawai’i.  Authorities say the remaining two defendants who are brothers of John Tai–Kaisa Tai, 40, and Louis Tai, 33–were arrested in American Samoa, where they reside.

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The charges stemmed from a coordinated two-year investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

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“The results are another illustration of the importance of inter-agency cooperation in incapacitating the organizations responsible for interstate transportation of methamphetamine to Hawaii,” said Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii.

“This investigation has dismantled what we believe was one of the larger and more lucrative methamphetamine distribution rings operating here in islands,” said Wayne Wills, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in Hawaii. “By pooling our information, resources and expertise, HSI and its law enforcement partners have succeeded in shutting down a criminal organization that posed a serious threat to public safety,” said Wills.

“Law enforcement continues in a day-to-day battle against the blight of methamphetamine that afflicts so many in our communities,” said Robin Dinlocker, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for DEA in Hawaii.

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Each of the eight counts in the superseding indictment carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, with a mandatory minimum prison term of ten years. The indictment is an accusation, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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