Police say three arrested in Kiholo commercial outdoor grow operation
Kona, Hawaii– Hawaii Police have arrested three men in connection with what the department says were several commercial outdoor marijuana growing operations in North Kona.
Search warrants have also been served on homes and vehicles in what police are characterizing as a large marijuana bust.
The police released the following:
On Tuesday (April 6), officers from the Area II Vice Section conducted surveillance of a marijuana patch in the Kiholo area off Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. Investigators observed the suspects arrive at this location and monitored their activity as they spent approximately three hours tending to the marijuana plants.
Twenty-five-year-old Kyle Kapuniai of Pu’ulani Estates, 31-year-old Matthew Ferino of Pu’ulani Estates, and 32-year-old Weston Dorris—also known as West Collins—of Kamuela were arrested at 3:30 in the morning after they returned to their truck with marijuana that officers had observed them harvest from the patch.
Later Tuesday morning, police recovered more marijuana plants from two other commercial outdoor marijuana growing locations in the Pu’uanahulu area between the 18- and 24-mile markers of Route 190. Investigators have linked the suspects to these additional sites, which were identified in the early stages of this eight-month-long investigation.
A total of four search warrants were served on Tuesday. Throughout the course of the investigation, 598 marijuana plants ranging in height from 10 inches to 3 feet were recovered from marijuana patches. Approximately 4 pounds of dried marijuana and 3.3 grams of suspected hashish were recovered between the two homes in the Kaloko and Pu’uanahulu areas. Water tanks, pumps, hoses and grow pots were also recovered. More than $1,000 in cash and three vehicles were seized for possible forfeiture.
The dried marijuana has an approximate value of $20,000.
This investigation began in mid-2009 after officers observed one of the growing locations on Route 190 from the air during a marijuana eradication mission. Information was developed on the other grow sites that were later found during additional aerial reconnaissance flights. All of the patches were located on separate parcels owned by the state, encompassing nearly 70,000 acres.
Each man was charged late Wednesday (April 7) with three counts of commercial promotion of marijuana.
Kapuniai was additionally arrested and charged with four counts of drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at $38,000. He was also arrested and charged on a bench warrant for failure to appear with additional bail of $300.
Ferino was additionally arrested and charged with five counts 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 arrested and charged for a probation violation and is being held without bail on that count.
Dorris was additionally charged with three counts 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 assisted in this investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Guard, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement and the Hawai’i HIDTA.