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Attempted drug trafficker sentenced

LIHUE — A Kauai woman was sentenced to two years in a federal penitentiary for attempted drug trafficking.

Delta-Dawn Taniguchi pleaded guilty in June to one felony count — possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine — and was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Honolulu to 24 months in prison, followed by five years supervised release, according to court documents.

Taniguchi was arrested on March 11 at her friend’s home in Lihue, where she received a package in the mail containing a bag of vacuum-sealed rock salt, a GPS tracker, fingerprint powder and an electronic monitoring device that notified a team of Kauai police officers and federal agents that the parcel had been opened.

According to an affidavit by U.S. Postal Inspector Jensen Rodrigues, the sting operation that led to Taniguchi’s arrest began in February, when a KPD officer, acting on a tip from a confidential informant, contacted the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with instructions to watch out for a parcel from California destined for a house on Mua Street.

Postal inspectors intercepted the parcel about a week later and found 1,350 grams — roughly three pounds — of a “white, crystal-like substance, which field-tested positive for methamphetamine,” the affidavit said.

A pound of meth on Kauai is worth anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000, according to a recent estimate by KPD officers.

Law-enforcement officials confiscated the bag of ice, replaced it with rock salt, and added tracking and monitoring equipment. Then they sent an undercover postal inspector, disguised as a letter carrier, to deliver the package, which the affidavit said Taniguchi opened a short time later.

According to the affidavit, Taniguchi admitting to buying the methamphetamine with $15,000 she got from a man who had given her the money to handle the transaction and shipment in exchange for a portion of the drugs.

The judge presiding over Taniguchi’s case granted her permission to spend time with family on Kauai before serving her two-year sentence at a federal correctional facility on the mainland.

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Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

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