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5 arrested in methamphetamine drug bust

LIHUE — About 60 law enforcement officers, including representatives from the FBI, IRS, U.S. Postal Inspectors and Kauai police, raided Kauai homes and searched cars Wednesday and Thursday, resulting in five arrests on drug charges.

James Balino, 34, Bronson Balino, 31, Rodney Cremer, 42, and Sonya Tupou, 24, were taken into custody in the early morning hours. Another man, Gared Makaiau, 43, was in custody Wednesday.

All are from Kapaa except Tupou, who is from Anahola.

“Kauai Police were really the heroes of the situation,” said Tom Simon, special agent with the FBI in Honolulu. “They did all the heavy lifting.”

According to the federal indictment, the group knowingly and intentionally possessed with intent to distribute methamphetamine, its salts, isomers and salts of its isomers.

Investigators also tracked large amounts of money that was being withdrawn, then deposited into bank accounts.

All of the transactions took place over six months last year.

The U.S. Coast Guard transported the suspects to Oahu so that the agencies did not have to fly them over on a commercial plane.

All will spend the weekend at the Federal Detention Center on Oahu. First appearances are scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday except for Makaiau, who had his first appearance and is being held until his detention hearing next week.

If convicted, each faces up to life in prison.

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