Suspects in drug bust make first appearances

LIHUE — Four Kauai residents arrested on drug charges last week made first appearances in federal court Monday afternoon.

James Balino, 34, and Rodney Cremer, 42, both of Kapaa, have detention hearings set for Thursday and are being detained at the Federal Detention Center on Oahu in the interim. Bronson Balino, 31, who is not opposing his own detention while he awaits trial, will be held while he awaits trail. Sonya Tupou, 24, of Anahola, was released into the custody of her parents on Kauai with a monitoring bracelet.

A fifth suspect, Gared Makaiau, 43, of Kapaa, had his first court appearance last Thursday and has a detention hearing scheduled Tuesday.

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 the arrests.

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Investigators also tracked large amounts of money that was being withdrawn, then deposited into bank accounts.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 last week so that the agencies did not have to fly them over on a commercial plane.

If convicted, each faces up to life in prison.

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