In the past three months, 15 people from Hawai`i were charged with drug or violent crimes in the U.S. District Court in Honolulu, and 13 firearms, 543 rounds of ammunition, approximately 13 pounds of methamphetamine, and over $35,000 were seized, as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods.
Due to these prosecutions and others, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawai`i is on pace to file approximately twice as many firearms and violent crime indictments in Fiscal Year 2018 as it did in the previous two fiscal years.
“Project Safe Neighborhoods is fundamentally about getting Hawaii’s most violent offenders off our streets,” said U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price. “Along with our federal and local law enforcement partners, we are committed to working tirelessly to make our community safer by targeting for prosecution the most dangerous offenders in Hawaii.”
“The Department of the Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Maui, truly enjoys working with our Federal Partners in law enforcement because they bring so much to the table, including resources, knowledge, experience, and an ‘open door’ policy we can tap into at any time,” Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Maui John Kim commented.
“Project Safe Neighborhoods brings the expertise and resources of federal law enforcement to bear on our local community issues. We are grateful for the partnership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and all our federal partners in dismantling drug cartels and violent criminal enterprises,” said Justin F. Kollar, Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Kauai.
The fifteen individuals charged include, among others:
Shane Durante, 46, who was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; using firearms and ammunition during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, namely, a Winchester .30-30 rifle, 20 rounds of Winchester ammunition, and a Glock brand 9 mm pistol. According to a criminal complaint, at the time of his arrest, Durante had more than six pounds of methamphetamine, as well as firearms and ammunition in his possession. Three other individuals were charged with related crimes in connection with Durante’s arrest. One of them was alleged to have mailed multiple pounds of methamphetamine from the mainland to Oahu. That individual was arrested on the mainland and transported to Oahu to face charges.
Chester Cabang, 37, and Kloulubak Debedebek, 37, were charged in a criminal complaint with distributing 14 ounces and 3 ounces of methamphetamine, respectively. Following their arrests, law enforcement recovered a .40 caliber Glock pistol from Cabang’s vehicle, and a 9 mm Glock pistol from Debedebek’s vehicle. Law enforcement also recovered an AR-15-style assault rifle from Debedebek’s self-storage unit. Another individual was charged in a related indictment with two counts of distributing methamphetamine. According to a criminal complaint, this individual had mailed five one-pound parcels of methamphetamine from the mainland to Oahu. This person was arrested on the mainland and transported to Hawaii to face charges.
Ikaika Adams-Feeney, 28, was charged and pleaded guilty to possessing with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, and unlawfully possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. According to documents filed in federal court, Adams-Feeney was arrested on an outstanding warrant and found to be in possession of a distributable amount of methamphetamine, a loaded Beretta Model 92SB 9 mm pistol, and 14 rounds of ammunition, all while having previously been convicted of a felony offense.
Adalberto Cortez, 46, was charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute heroin, with several counts of possession with the intent to distribute heroin, and with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, Cortez and another individual sold heroin to an undercover Honolulu Police Department officer, after which a search of Cortez’s residence resulted in the seizure of heroin, a 9 mm Glock pistol with 25 rounds of ammunition, and a 100 mm Glock handgun with 10 rounds of ammunition. Also seized during the case were three Rolex watches and other pieces of jewelry, gold and silver coins and bars, and $31,500 in U.S. currency.
Mitchum Pastor, 52, was charged with one count of bank robbery and one count of credit union robbery. Pastor pled guilty as charged and is currently awaiting sentencing. He has two previous convictions for federal bank robbery, among other prior convictions.
John Hubbard, 61, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to allegations in the criminal complaint, Hubbard fired two shots above a victim’s head in the Leilani Estates Subdivision on the Big Island. Hubbard was charged with possessing a revolver, 12 rounds of .38 special caliber ammunition, 19 rounds of Winchester Super X .30-06 caliber ammunition, and multiple additional boxes of other types of ammunition, all while having previously been convicted of two prior felonies.
Chad Valoroso, 53, was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to the allegations in the criminal complaint, after Valoroso fired two shots from a moving vehicle into the air in Wailuku, Maui, he was apprehended by Maui Police Department officers. A subsequent search of a car revealed a loaded Smith & Wesson .38 Special caliber revolver and 47 rounds of ammunition. According to the criminal complaint, at the time, Valoroso had 22 prior felony convictions.
All of these cases are part of PSN, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
These cases were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Homeland Security (Homeland Security Investigations), U.S. Marshals Service, State of Hawaii Department of Public Safety, State of Hawaii Department of the Attorney General, and the police departments and prosecutor’s offices of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai Counties and the City and County of Honolulu.
If convicted, each defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after reviewing factors unique to the case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence should not exceed the maximum penalty allowed under the charged statute, and in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
Criminal complaints and indictments only contain charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.