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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 1, 2021

Woman Pleads Guilty To Drug Trafficking After Flying From Hawaii And Attempting To Smuggle Heroin Into High Desert State Prison

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Arlene-Anela Kekoolani, 30, of Honolulu, Hawaii, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. 

According to court documents, between October 24, 2019, and November 16, 2019, Kekoolani conspired with an inmate at High Desert State Prison to fly from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Sacramento, rent a car, obtain heroin, and then try to surreptitiously pass the drugs to the inmate during a contact visit at the prison. At the time of the offense, Kekoolani was an employee of the Honolulu City Council. 

Investigators at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) learned of the plot by listening to recorded prison calls and decoding the calls between Kekoolani and the inmate. When Kekoolani flew from Honolulu and landed in Sacramento on November 15, FBI and CDCR investigators spotted her in the airport and identified the silver Toyota Camry she rented to carry out the smuggling operation. On November 16, 2019, Kekoolani arrived at High Desert State Prison in Susanville.  Investigators seized heroin she had hidden on her person. They also discovered additional heroin in her rental car parked in the prison parking lot.  

This case was the product of an investigation by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jason Hitt is prosecuting the case.

Kekoolani was previously ordered released from custody on terms of pretrial release.

Kekoolani is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on March 7, 2022. Kekoolani faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 
2:20-cr-0106-KJM
Updated November 1, 2021