(BIVN) – A deadly overdose that occurred Thursday at the Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center in Hilo has been linked by police to a recent fentanyl bust at Kona airport.
Just days after the arrest of a Kona couple for fentanyl possession at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport, two inmates who police say shared a jail cell with one of the suspects were found unresponsive. One man was later pronounced dead.
Police detailed the set of events in a Friday news release:
Hawai‘i Island police are investigating the link between an overdose death at Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center (HCCC) and the recent arrest of a Kona couple on fentanyl charges.
On Thursday, January 4, 2024, at 1 p.m., Hilo patrol officers responded to HCCC for a report of two male inmates who were found unresponsive in a cell. The men were transported to the Hilo Medical Center where one of them, a 56-year-old man from Pāhoa, was pronounced deceased at 1:34 p.m. His name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. Detectives with Hawai‘i Police Department’s (HPD) Area I Criminal Investigation Section have launched a coroner’s inquest investigation into this death.
The other inmate, 33-year-old Hilo man is expected to make a full recovery and was released to the custody of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Responding officers located a white powdery substance resembling fentanyl in the cell occupied by the two inmates. In the course of the investigation, police determined that a third inmate had been in the same cell shortly before the overdoses occurred.
The third inmate, 41-year-old Izaiah Shields of Kona, and his girlfriend, 37-year-old Moriah Goulette, also of Kona, were arrested by HPD Area II Vice officers on Friday, December 29, 2023, after being intercepted at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport in Kona upon arriving from San Francisco, California. Executing a search warrant on Goulette’s belongings, vice detectives recovered 4.7 grams of fentanyl and arrested Goulette at the airport. The pair were taken to Kona Community Hospital where they were both x-rayed, resulting in the discovery of 64.5 grams of packaged fentanyl concealed within Shield’s body, which he removed of his own accord.
The arrest of Shields and Goulette was part of a month-long joint investigation between Homeland Security Investigations and HPD.
On Saturday, December 30, Goulette was charged with third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and Shields was charged with first-degree and second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug with bail set at $10,000 and $75,000 respectively. They remained in Kona cellblock until their initial court appearance on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. At that time, bail was maintained for both and they were transferred to HCCC in Hilo.
On Thursday morning, January 4, Shields was taken to his initial court appearance in Kona. While he was out of the facility, the overdose involving his two cellmates occurred and evidence was recovered including a white powdery substance suspected to be fentanyl, as well as packaging consistent with the suspected fentanyl recovered from Shields on December 29.
Following the overdose incident, HCCC personnel performed a search of Goulette, which resulted in the recovery of a clear zip-type packet from her mouth. The packet contained a white powdery substance.
Goulette was arrested Thursday for first-degree promoting prison contraband and remains in the Hilo Cellblock pending issuance and execution of a body search warrant.
Shields was returned to HCCC, where he was also arrested for first-degree promoting prison contraband and remains in the Hilo Cellblock.
Hawai‘i Police Department Area II Vice and Area I CIS detectives are continuing this ongoing complex investigation in collaboration with Homeland Security Investigations.
“The Area II Vice team did an amazing job at keeping a large amount of fentanyl off the streets” said Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz in the news release. “This case highlights the lengths to which people will go in order to conceal drugs and other contraband. As this investigation continues, together with our federal partners, we will not stop our pursuit of those who import and distribute drugs in our communities. They must be held accountable.”