An Oahu man and two Maui men have been arrested in connection with a wide range of criminal charges, including drug trafficking, firearm offenses, operating an illegal gambling business, and money laundering. The arrests were made as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Task Force Officers from the Maui Police Department, with assistance from other law enforcement agencies. The indictment against the individuals alleges that they were involved in a criminal organization that distributed methamphetamine and cocaine, conducted illegal gambling activities, and transported controlled substances and unlawful proceeds between Oahu and Maui. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah Smith and the defendants are expected to be presented in federal court soon.
Arrests and Charges
Oahu Man and Two Maui Men Arrested
On Friday, June 3, 2022, Maliu Tauheluhelu, Maafu Pani, and Touanga Niu were arrested in connection with an indictment that charged them with drug trafficking, firearm offenses, operating an illegal gambling business, and money laundering. The indictment also included charges against Desmond Morris, who has not yet been apprehended.
Indictment Charges Drug Trafficking, Firearms, Illegal Gambling Business, and Money Laundering
The indictment, which was unsealed on June 3, 2022, detailed the charges against Tauheluhelu, Pani, Niu, and Morris. It alleged that Tauheluhelu led a criminal organization involved in the distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine, as well as the operation of illegal gambling businesses in the District of Hawaii. Pani was accused of overseeing the drug trafficking and illegal gambling activities on Maui, while Niu was alleged to have assisted with the transportation of controlled substances and unlawful proceeds. Morris was charged with participating in the criminal organization’s illegal activities on Maui.
Fourth Suspect Not Yet Apprehended
While Tauheluhelu, Pani, and Niu have been arrested, the fourth suspect named in the indictment, Desmond Morris, has not yet been apprehended. Law enforcement continues their efforts to locate and apprehend Morris.
Expected Court Appearance for Tauheluhelu, Pani, and Niu
Tauheluhelu, Pani, and Niu are expected to have their initial court appearance in Hawaii federal court on Monday, June 6, 2022. The proceeding will take place before United States Chief Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield.
Press Conference Held at Maui Police Department
A press conference was held on Monday, June 6, 2022, at the Maui Police Department to provide more information about the arrests and charges. The press conference offered an opportunity for law enforcement officials to share updates on the case and address any questions from the media.
Criminal Organization Details
Tauheluhelu’s Leadership of Criminal Organization
According to court documents, Maliu Tauheluhelu was the leader of a criminal organization that operated in the District of Hawaii. It is alleged that Tauheluhelu oversaw the distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine, as well as the operation of illegal gambling businesses within the organization. The indictment suggests that Tauheluhelu played a central role in the criminal activities of the organization.
Distribution of Methamphetamine and Cocaine
The indictment described the distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine as one of the main activities of the criminal organization led by Tauheluhelu. These controlled substances were allegedly distributed within the District of Hawaii by members of the organization, contributing to the area’s illicit drug trade.
Illegal Gambling Operations in the District of Hawaii
In addition to drug trafficking, the criminal organization was also involved in running illegal gambling operations within the District of Hawaii. The indictment suggests that these gambling activities were a source of illicit revenue for the organization.
Pani’s Role in Drug Trafficking and Illegal Gambling on Maui
Maafu Pani, one of the individuals arrested, was allegedly responsible for overseeing the drug trafficking and illegal gambling activities of the criminal organization on Maui. Pani’s involvement in these illicit activities contributed to the organization’s overall operations.
Niu’s Involvement in Transportation of Controlled Substances and Unlawful Proceeds
Touanga Niu, another individual arrested in connection with the indictment, is believed to have played a role in the transportation of controlled substances from Oahu to Maui. Additionally, Niu is alleged to have been involved in transporting unlawful proceeds from Maui back to Oahu, utilizing flights that bypassed Transportation Security Administration screening.
Involvement of Desmond Morris
Morris Charged in the Indictment
Desmond Morris, who has not yet been apprehended, is included in the indictment and faces charges related to his alleged participation in the illegal activities of the criminal organization. The specific charges against Morris have not been disclosed at this time.
Participation in Illegal Activities on Maui
Based on the information provided in the indictment, it is alleged that Desmond Morris participated in the criminal organization’s illegal activities on Maui. The nature and extent of his involvement are expected to be further detailed as the case progresses.
Investigation and Assistance
Federal Bureau of Investigation and Task Force Officers Involved
The investigation into the criminal organization and the charges against Tauheluhelu, Pani, Niu, and Morris involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and task force officers. These dedicated law enforcement professionals worked diligently to uncover evidence and build a strong case against the individuals involved.
Assistance from Maui Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and Drug Enforcement Administration
The FBI and task force officers received assistance from various law enforcement agencies throughout the investigation. The Maui Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) played crucial roles in supporting the investigation and aiding in the arrests of the individuals involved.
Case Handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah Smith
The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah Smith. As a member of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Smith will lead the efforts to present the evidence and pursue justice in this complex and significant case.
Sentencing of Kauai Woman for Wire Fraud Schemes and Aggravated Identity Theft
In a separate case, a Kauai woman was recently sentenced to 17 years in prison for wire fraud schemes and aggravated identity theft. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Hawaii has been actively pursuing cases related to financial fraud and identity theft to protect the rights and interests of the community.
Arrest of Four Individuals for Investment Fraud Scheme Targeting Hawaii Residents
Another recent development in the fight against financial fraud involved the arrest of four individuals involved in an investment fraud scheme targeting Hawaii residents. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, continues to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of such crimes.
Sentencing of Los Angeles Man for Heroin and Methamphetamine Trafficking
A Los Angeles man was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for heroin and methamphetamine trafficking. This case highlights the interconnected nature of drug trafficking operations and serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to combat the illegal drug trade.
For more information or inquiries related to this case, please contact Elliot Enoki. Additional details, updates, and official statements can be provided upon request.
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