In response to recent spikes in crimes associated with drug use and distribution in Puna, Big Island police have focused their attention on several geographic areas and groups of individuals preying on law-abiding members of our community. To that end, investigators with the Criminal Investigations Division’s Criminal Investigation Section and Vice Section have been conducting parallel investigations into local drug trafficking organizations and burglary rings that work together.
As a result, this past week, 13 individuals were arrested for 46 property offenses, such as burglary, theft, unauthorized entry into motor vehicles and identity theft-related offenses. Additionally, nine people were arrested for drug offenses such as methamphetamine trafficking, promoting a dangerous drug and drug paraphernalia.
As part of their investigations, detectives served a search warrant on May 20 at a home in Orchidland Estates, where a previous search warrant served in April resulted in the discovery of crystal methamphetamine and nearly $150,000 worth of stolen property. On both occasions, police arrested 60-year-old Lloyd Chong for drug offenses. Following execution of the latest search warrant, police arrested nine people at the home. Chong was charged with methamphetamine trafficking, promotion of a dangerous drug and other related drug offenses after vice officers recovered just under an ounce of crystal methamphetamine or “ice,” processed marijuana, scales and other paraphernalia related to the use and distribution of the illicit drugs. Chong is being held at the police cellblock in lieu of $36,000 bail. His initial court appearance was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in South Hilo District Court.
One of the other nine individuals arrested was 44-year-old Derek Liu of Kamuela, who was charged with ownership/possession of a firearm prohibited and alteration of identification marks prohibited stemming from his status as a convicted felon being in possession of a firearm at the time the warrant was served on the property. Liu was unable to post $6,000 bail and remained in the police cellblock pending his initial court appearance on Tuesday afternoon, also in South Hilo District Court.
The remaining seven people arrested at the scene were 55-year-old Randy Lorenzo of Kamuela, 40-year-old Michael Ortiz of Puna, 51-year-old Rudolpho Calabucal of Puna, 37-year-old Kelli Sampaia of Puna, 45-year-old Leonine Tianga of Puna, 31-year-old Angelina Mamone-McKeague of Hilo and 38-year-old Rhonda Mattos of Hilo. These suspects were released pending further investigation into their activities related to the drug bust and related property crime investigations. Ortiz was charged with first-degree burglary in connection with another ongoing investigation by detectives. He was unable to post $50,000 bail and was held at the police cellblock pending his initial court appearance.
The following were the additional persons arrested as part of these ongoing investigations:
- Edward Geraghty, 23, of Puna was charged with first-degree burglary, second-degree criminal property damage and two counts of second-degree theft. He was also charged following a recent indictment for first-degree methamphetamine trafficking, three counts of third-degree promoting a dangerous drug, one count of second-degree promoting a dangerous drug, four counts of drug paraphernalia and a firearm offense. He is being held at the police cellblock, unable to post $20,000 bail for the property crimes and $24,000 bail for the drug charges.
- Ernest Balai, 47, of Hilo was charged with first degree burglary. His bail was set at $5,000. He remains at the Hilo cellblock.
- Christopher Asagra, 38, of Hilo was charged with second-degree theft and trespassing. His bail was set at $2,000. He remains at the Hilo cellblock.
- John Lesseos, 46, of Hilo was charged with first-degree burglary, five counts of unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and 13 counts of unauthorized possession of personal information. He remains in the police cellblock unable to post $38,000 bail.
- Corey Sanchez, 20, of Puna was charged with bail jumping and violating supervised release. His bail was set at $50,000. He remained in the cellblock unable to post bail. He was also arrested for second degree-theft but was released on that charge pending further investigation.
- Dawn Delatorre-Gannon, 26, of Puna, was arrested for first-degree burglary, unauthorized use of a propelled vehicle and fourth-degree theft. She was release pending further investigation.
- Jessicamae Caravalho, 25, of Hilo was arrested for first degree burglary. She was released without charges pending further investigation.
- Christino Caravalho, 32, of Hilo was arrested for first degree burglary. He was released without charges pending further investigation.
- Melanie Kainoa, 24, of Puna was arrested for two counts of first degree burglary. She was released on those offenses pending further investigation, but was charged on an outstanding warrant for a violating the terms of her release on bail. She was held without bail on the warrant.
- Jayse Lee, 31, of Hilo, was arrested for second-degree theft but was release pending further investigation.
- Dovie Raymond, 23, of Hilo, was arrested for second degree theft, but was released without charges.
- Leighton Calvo, 32, of Hilo, was arrested for second-degree theft, but was released without charges.
The reasons some suspects were released “pending further investigations” varied. Normally, from the time an individual is arrested, investigators have just 48 hours to either formally charge the arrestee or release the arrestee from custody. Often, detectives are hampered by difficulty or the inability to properly tie stolen property to a particular crime and/or victim. If unable to articulate that a specific item was stolen from a particular victim, police are not able to satisfy a crucial element of the statute.
With that in mind, police recommend that community members photograph or mark their valuables, maintain a list of brand names, model numbers and serial numbers, and keep the records together in a safe place. Many items recovered from thieves cannot be returned due to the lack of identifying features or serial numbers. The police department has engravers available to the community to permanently mark property. For assistance, the public may call the Hawai’i Police Department’s Community Policing Office at 961-2350 in East Hawai’i or 326-4646, extension 259, in West Hawai’i.
Police remind the community to continue to report suspicious persons, vehicles, and situations to police. Get to know your neighbors and neighborhoods. By working together, we can create a safe and secure environment. Please report suspicious activity to the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311. In an emergency, dial 911. Tipsters may also call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.