Arthur Brun arrested in drug trafficking bust

  • Courtesy

    Kaua‘i Police Department County Councilmember Arthur Brun

LIHU‘E — County Councilmember Arthur Brun and 11 other people were arrested Thursday and charged with operating a huge methamphetamine distribution ring on Kaua‘i, including allegedly procuring an unlicensed firearm for one of the codefendants.

The Kaua‘i Police Department described the action as a “massive islandwide drug sweep” in which Brun was arrested, and brought to light more information about an incident in which he was arrested last November, fled after striking a KPD officer with his car, and flung a bag of methamphetamines from his vehicle as he tried to escape.

While the traffic stop arrest had been previously disclosed, Brun’s action to throw a bag of illegal drugs from his car as he led a police pursuit had not been made public before Thursday’s arrest.

KPD and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Honolulu were scheduled to hold a news conference this morning to provide additional detail on the case, which a county news release described as a “major drug-trafficking organization” headed by Brun, who according to a 29-page federal indictment was known as “Ata” within the drug ring.

The arrest came as a result of a federal indictment filed Feb. 13, charging that Brun ran the drug ring while he was “a sitting member of the Kaua‘i County Council and the vice chair of its Public Safety and Human Services Committee.”

The other defendants are Maluelue “Malu” Umu, Kelvin Kauwila Kai, Steven Keli‘ikuli, Kaniu Huihui, Sheena Millare, Efron Yanos, Kirsten Makanoe Ayau, Orlando “Ole” Manguchei, Robby Silva, Haidee Sueyasu and Phrystal Bacio. Hometowns of the defendants were not included in the indictment, but the charging papers linked them to an organized crime group known as the United Samoan Organization, or “USO Gang.”

Brun remained in KPD custody Thursday evening pending his transfer to U.S. District Court in Honolulu. It came after months of speculation within Kaua‘i government circles that Brun was afflicted by a serious drug-abuse problem.

As news of the arrest circulated in county government on Thursday, both Mayor Derek Kawakami and Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro released statements emphasizing the possible role of drug addiction in Brun’s situation.

However, Kaneshiro emphasized that the Kaua‘i County Charter makes no provision for Brun’s expulsion from the council and that he will — under the law — continue to serve until he resigns. Recall of a councilmember is prohibited under the charter, which restricts recall authority to county officials serving four-year terms, a provision that applies only to mayor and prosecuting attorney.

The indictment describes an organized crime operation that had the flavor of something out of a television police procedural. It charged that Brun, on several occasions, ordered and received large shipments of methamphetamines, including one shipment that was mailed to him from California.

KPD intercepted the shipment, according to the indictment. KPD Chief Todd Raybuck said the case began as an investigation of methamphetamine trafficking but was expanded to include numerous federal agencies after Brun’s involvement and the extent of the operation were discovered.

“The suspects under indictment today were identified as part of a major drug-trafficking organization that has been supplying a significant amount of methamphetamine throughout the community,” Raybuck said. He said KPD had been assisted by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Honolulu.

In a statement released Thursday, Kawakami said, “I am disappointed that an elected councilmember has been arrested under these serious criminal charges. But this highlights the reality that addiction is a disease that knows no bounds and does not discriminate.”

The county also released a statement from Kaneshiro that said, “On a personal level, it has been difficult to watch what has transpired with Councilmember Brun’s personal situation. I hope that Councilmember Brun will do what is right for his family, supporters and the community.”

But Kaneshiro said the County Charter precludes Brun’s removal from the council unless he resigns, although a section of the charter allows “a member of the public to initiate impeachment proceedings.” There are no provisions in the rules of the County Council, Kaneshiro said, that provide for the council to expel Brun for any conduct except “contemptuous behavior or personal vilification” that may occur during an official council meeting.

“The Kauai County Council,” Kaneshiro said, “is well aware of the sensitivity of this issue within the community, and will continue to monitor where any of these rules are enforceable.”

The indictment, which was originally handed up by a federal grand jury in Honolulu on Feb. 13, describes an intricate drug ring in which Brun named Umu as a “shot caller” for the United Samoan Organization and charged that Manguchei “acted to protect Arthur Brun” and the operations of the drug ring.

It charged that Manguchei undertook this role “at the same time he was a fugitive on a federal arrest warrant.” It charged that Brun attempted to obtain an unregistered firearm for Manguchei’s use, “despite that fact that both Brun and Manguchei have previously sustained felony convictions.”

The language referred to a previous case, several years ago, in which Brun was convicted on drug charges. When Brun was first elected to the County Council in 2016, however, he and people close to him said that, though he had a troubled past, he had straightened his life out and become an exemplary community member and held regular employment.

The indictment referred to numerous apparently wiretapped phone calls, including several in which Brun asked associates about the status and cost of drug shipments. In October of last year, for example, the indictment charged, “Brun asked, in substance and on part, “how much you got?” in response to a call from Sueyasu.

In several of the calls, the indictment charged, Brun pressed his associates for details on the quantity of drugs that were on hand or might be shipped. In one of the calls, Brun allegedly told one of the associates that the drugs in one shipment were “killa…the best one so far.” The document said Brun responded that the drugs in question needed to be weighed to confirm their quantity and value.

In another call, the indictment charged that Brun pressed an associate for information on an unregistered 38-caliber handgun that might be available to be sure the gun was “not registered.” In another call, in October, 2019, one of the codefendants asked Brun “if he needed any assistance in collecting drug debts.”

Police also overheard phone conversations in which Brun referred to unusually large numbers of police being observed at Salt Pond, at Port Allen and in Hanapepe. In another conversation, one of the alleged associates observed to another “I work for (Brun) long time. Don’t you even think of touch him. You not going touch him. You going to have to bury me first, brah.”

The indictment charged that the first of two widely reported arrests of Brun, on Oct. 29 of last year, occurred after KPD suspected Brun was transporting large quantities of methamphetamine in his vehicle. After allegedly sideswiping the KPD officer who stopped him in Lihu‘e, Brun fled in his car, throwing a bag of drugs from the vehicle as he tried to evade arrest.

One of the codefendants asked Brun about the incident, to which Brun allegedly responded that he tossed the drugs. “That’s why, dakine, that’s why I ran,” Brun allegedly said.

The indictment charged that Brun occasionally questioned the prices and quantities of drugs he had ordered.

The entire indictment is posted at thegardenisland.com.

34 Comments
  1. Rev Dr. Malama February 27, 2020 10:32 am Reply

    Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of the drug epidemic destroying our Hawai’ian Kingdom subjects and CULTURE ….. Mahalo Ke Akua!


  2. Joe Public February 27, 2020 11:14 am Reply

    Maybe now with a federal indictment, the remaining council members will have the courage to save Kauai from further embarrassment, place Brun on leave of absence and bring up the number 8 person that recently ran to fill in till the “Brun Matter” is done


    1. Vicky February 28, 2020 11:13 am Reply

      KAWAKAMI YOU ARE SUCH AN IDIOT, THANK GOODNESS I DIDNT VOTE FOR YOU, BUT YOU STILL WON. SO SAD! ARTHUR BURN IS A DRUG ADDICT AND THAT IS HIS PERSONAL BIZ, BUT HE IS ALSO A DRUG DEALER, DEALING DRUGS TO OUR COMMUNITY! THE PEOPLE HE SAID HE WAS GOING TAKE CARE OF THE PEOPLE THAT TRUSTED HIM.


  3. billyjoebob February 27, 2020 12:29 pm Reply

    Gonna be fun to follow this one and see who he throws under the bus. Like this really surprises anyone?


  4. Kauhane keliiheleua February 27, 2020 1:08 pm Reply

    “The suspects under indictment today were identified as part of a major drug trafficking organization that has been supplying a significant amount of methamphetamine throughout the community,”
    what major drug trafficking Org?..I heard Atui is behind importing Meth to hawaii..is it that org? asian mafia? who? Public has a right to know


  5. truth be known February 27, 2020 2:13 pm Reply

    How many more atrocities must this man commit before the Kauai Council expels him from office. Or maybe they’re worried that he might implicate some of them in his nefarious activities. Step council and do your duty else we voters will wonder why.


    1. look with your eyes not your mouth February 27, 2020 11:40 pm Reply

      Maybe if you read the article you could see why they haven’t expelled him yet.


  6. ruthann jones February 27, 2020 3:27 pm Reply

    local boy goes down. Shame on Kauai!


    1. manongindashadow0711 February 28, 2020 12:00 pm Reply

      ruthann jones, “not shame on Kauai !” …shame on whoever is selling it to the local boy.


  7. omg watnow February 27, 2020 3:42 pm Reply

    Us Tax Payers should not allow this (*^# on payroll any more. No Bail! GUILTY as F&#$


  8. Dude February 27, 2020 4:32 pm Reply

    This is a reflection on the entire council! Do something about this ASAP or all resign!


  9. MisterM February 27, 2020 5:14 pm Reply

    This is the third time this druggie has been arrested in the last year, right? Why is this guy not behind bars already? Lock him up. Throw away the key.


  10. Vicky February 27, 2020 5:48 pm Reply

    He’s gonna walk away from all of this, if he was stopped from the first time back in the early 2000, he wouldn’t have been selling. You know how much people he must have sold drugs to in the last 20 years ??? Kauai has a strange system! and the County encourage us to vote. If it’s Federal he needs to be locked up 10 years minimum! We’ll see


  11. David Gardener February 27, 2020 7:11 pm Reply

    I’ve seen reports about this from several sources now and they all mention 12 arrests but the only named individual is Brun.

    How about The Garden Island name all the others? It would be good to know on a small island like ours who the offenders are.


    1. jalaidat February 27, 2020 10:29 pm Reply

      The other 11 people stay named in the article.


    2. pointfisha February 28, 2020 8:06 am Reply

      The others are named in paragraph 6 of the article.


  12. curious dog February 27, 2020 9:04 pm Reply

    No comments? 12 for the salt ponds guy & none here? Arthur Brun appears to be a really baaaaad aaaaapppple here & nobody commented. How odd.


  13. Jake February 27, 2020 10:27 pm Reply

    This not only a reflection on the entire county council, but also on those who voted for Brun. What were you thinking? You must have know this guy was a gangbanger, yet you decided to put him on the county council? Are you ALL clueless cavepeople, for crying out loud?


  14. charlie Chimknee February 27, 2020 10:52 pm Reply

    2 solutions:

    a.) Be head all hard drug dealers. leave their heads piled up at their favorite beach pavilion.

    b.)for… Make all drugs legal, and free, with free delivery of no less than a shovel full of the ordered drug.

    Both would rid the island of drugs, dealers and addicts in 6 months…like the virus, expects some deaths.

    Lihue Airport departing flights…Standby Available only…mass exodus of street drug escapees.

    Then Next solution of Rx drugs…! ! !

    Finally Health returns to Kauai…! ! !


  15. Krstafer Pinkerton February 28, 2020 3:41 am Reply

    I’m not surprised. Sounds like there’s still lots of work for me to do there. Who wants to see Pinkerton clean up the island?


  16. Debra Kekaualua February 28, 2020 7:17 am Reply

    TGI is famous for keeping the community out from reality, by not allowing pertinent guest postings or letter-writting publishings. Only those that want to continue to keep secret, what is really going down get every perk, spewing their shannanigans and lies ongoingly!

    In this case, Brun has three-times been “setup” by the very other leaders in this game of charades. WE know it and it is time for the TGI to discontinue the folly of their disconnect reporting.

    The popo powers that did this bust neglected to bring RICO. RICO would turn the tables on the entire hui o militaropoliticojudiciary that are the real criminals. We know this, but TGI refuses to publish anything that tells truth or has integrity


  17. LTEreader February 28, 2020 8:35 am Reply

    ‘Headline reader only’ syndrome David Gardener? The other 11 names are in the story, 6th paragraph from the top. You’re welcome.


  18. Leilani February 28, 2020 8:48 am Reply

    Is he a Democrat??????


  19. douglas henry February 28, 2020 8:48 am Reply

    He needs to go; and how did he ever get elected?


  20. randy kansas February 28, 2020 9:17 am Reply

    sorta like the no bail policy of New York city…they just let these monsters back on the street to sell more drugs, but maybe not this time, since the feds are on island;

    cant blame this on those pesky tourists !!


  21. Thinkkauai February 28, 2020 10:24 am Reply

    Its sad that this can happen. Also sad that most of you can’t even read and comprehend what is written. Clearly states there’s no provision written in the county charter for them to be able to anything until he is found guilty. Read it again if you can’t understand.

    If you unread the indictment it outlines a lot of back n forth between associates. Looks like text message excerpts due to spelling and abbreviations . Garden island you need to do better in informing the public.

    Lastly we can’t rely on the government to do everything for us after we complain about their ways. The community itself needs to lift itself up and protect itself from these incidents.


  22. Just saying February 28, 2020 11:42 am Reply

    Try check other council people. There’s rumors on how certain families got money and local influence. I’d be surprised if the others had complete no knowledge or are not tied in some way.


  23. Dennis Mendonca February 28, 2020 1:59 pm Reply

    I guess he has to be impeached otherwise he is going to draw a salary till end of December???


  24. I saw a Vampire once February 28, 2020 2:08 pm Reply

    I say lock him up for 30 years and throw away the keys.


  25. Just sayin February 28, 2020 2:27 pm Reply

    They should and hopefully have investigated the other council members. I mean this comes as no surprise, but he’s not the only one involved in drugs. Or atleast turned a blind eye to family dealing them. It’s a small community and I only feel ok saying this because I live somewhere else now.


    1. Debra Kekaualua@yahoo.com March 11, 2020 8:56 pm Reply

      o investgative reporting, that were made to leave Kauai! The new read of several Victims by Benish, ‘The Fifth Seal’ stories of many victims recused by kauai P.A. Kollar, aal of us still trying to receive closure, including murder of 4-year old Lacey, her perpetrator, the lawyer unlicensed trask and the many more helping to Expose those way overdue for their legacy going strait to hell on a fraudulent stolen Kealoha mailbox of high ranking Leaders judges, lawyers, zuckerberg, andrade, every department, military faction, esquires gallore and military insanity occupation of bonified terrorists


  26. Monkey business February 28, 2020 2:41 pm Reply

    Sadly feeling sorry for Ata and his drug problem won’t help all the people who’s lives we’re destroyed by this crew. The west side of Kauai has been plagued by meth. Open dealing on the side of the road, trash, junked cars. Squatting in abandon houses. Dealing openly next to schools. Hardly any police presence in Kekaha. It’s shameful that this has gotten so out of hand. Remove ATA now.


  27. Clandestine operations February 28, 2020 5:27 pm Reply

    Since 2003, he’s been trafficking. And KPD new all about it. He’s not the only one. Some of the County Department leaders were involved. I know first hand! Seen it myself!


  28. notahippi March 21, 2020 7:32 pm Reply

    He has such a beautiful family ….I;m so sorry how much they are hurting.


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