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Oahu Methamphetamine Distribution Ring Members Arrested

JUNE 28 (HONOLULU) – On June 25 and 26, 2013, pursuant to a federal indictment returned by a grand jury on June 20, 2013, law enforcement officers arrested Oahu residents John Penitani (33), Makusi Penitani (46), Siaosi Mafileo (32), Jake Del Mundo-Faagai (31), Michael Coleman (28), Michael Nguyen (33), and Keschan Taylor (29).  Also indicted were Oahu residents Julius Mitchell (42), currently in state custody for an unrelated charge, and Salvador Maciel (41) who remains at large.

The nine-count indictment, which had been sealed until the arrests, charges a methamphetamine conspiracy against all nine defendants and eight substantive methamphetamine distributions against combinations of the nine defendants.

Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that according to information produced in connection with court proceedings, between August and November of 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted an investigation of John Penitani and his drug distribution ring, which included the use of a wiretap.  John Penitani received multi-pound quantities of crystal methamphetamine every month from California that were then distributed by his co-conspirators.  The methamphetamine was distributed primarily in central Honolulu and the leeward areas of Oahu.

The maximum penalty is up to life imprisonment, with a ten-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment, on the conspiracy charge and six of the eight distribution charges.  The maximum penalty on the other two charges is 40 years imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum term of five years. John Penitani is charged in all nine counts. Taylor is also charged in the two 40-year-maximum counts.  The remaining seven defendants are each charged once in a life-maximum distribution count.  The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The charges are the result of a joint investigation by DEA; Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Honolulu Police Department; and the State of Hawaii Department of Public Safety Sheriff's Division. DEA Air Wing Support was also utilized on numerous surveillances during the course of the investigation.  The investigation is ongoing.  Assistant United States Attorney Chris A. Thomas is prosecuting the case.

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