Three Big Island men charged after major pot bust
Three Big Island men have been charged with commercial promotion of marijuana following a series of Hawaii County Police Department raids in the North Kona area.
Police said vice officers staked out a marijuana patch in the Kiholo area off Queen Kaahumanu Highway on Tuesday and watched as the suspects arrived and spent about three hours tending to the marijuana plants.
Arrested were Kyle Kapuniai, 25, of Pu'ulani Estates; Matthew Ferino, 31, of Pu'ulani Estates; and 32-year-old Weston Dorris—also known as West Collins—of Kamuela. The three were arrested at 3:30 a.m. after they returned to their truck with marijuana that officers allegedly had observed them harvest from the patch.
Police also reported recovering more marijuana plants from two other commercial outdoor marijuana growing locations in the Pu'uanahulu area along Route 190. The three men have been linked to the additional sites, which were identified in the early stages of an eight-month investigation, police said.
Some 598 marijuana plants, ranging from 10 inches to 3 feet, were recovered. Police also reported confiscating about four pounds of dried marijuana and 3.3 grams of suspected hashish from two homes in the Kaloko and Pu'uanahulu areas. Water tanks, pumps, hoses and grow pots were also seized along with $1,000 in cash and three vehicles.
The dried marijuana was valued at about $20,000.
The investigation began after officers noticed one of the growing sites along Route 190 from the air. The other growing sites were found during later aerial reconnaissance flights. All of the patches were found on land owned by the state, totaling nearly 70,000 acres.
In addition of the commercial marijuana charges:
• Kapuniai was charged with four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at $38,000.
• Ferino was charged with five counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one count each of promoting a detrimental drug and promoting a harmful drug. His bail was set $211,000 for those charges. He was also charged with probation violation and is being held without bail on that count.
• Dorris was charged with three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count each of promoting a harmful drug and promoting a detrimental drug. His bail was set at $37,250.
Hawai'i Police were aided in the investigation by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Guard, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement and the Hawai'i High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area office.