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Pahoa Man Arrest and Charged with Drug Offenses

by Thunda

Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen announced that a Puna man, 56 year-old Pio Kapeli, was arrested and charged with attempted distribution of methamphetamine and promoting a controlled substance in a public park. The police reports allege that Kapeli was contacted while seated on the stage area of the Mo‘oheau Bandstand in Hilo on January 31, 2024. Following the execution of a narcotics search warrant, Vice officers recovered over four ounces of methamphetamine within a backpack which was observed to be between Kapeli’s legs.

The arrest was the result of information police received regarding the sale of illicit drugs in the area of the Mo‘oheau Bus Terminal, officially known as the Russell Carroll Mo‘oheau County Park, in downtown Hilo. Through information developed by vice officers, they were able to obtain a warrant for Kapeli and property in his possession.

Upon Kapeli’s arrest, he was found to be in possession of a backpack. Upon execution of the search warrant on Kapeli’s bag, police recovered a gallon-sized zip-lock bag containing a white crystal-like substance, which ultimately tested presumptively positive for 119.37 grams (4.21 ounces) methamphetamine. Vice officers also recovered a digital scale with methamphetamine residue, more than 50 zip-packets (commonly used for drug distribution), and 20.83 grams of dried marijuana.

At the time of Kapeli’s arrest, there were young children in and around the bandstand and park area.

As the Complaint alleges, Kapeli was charged with Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree (possess over an ounce of methamphetamine), Attempted Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree (attempt to distribute one-eighth ounce or more of methamphetamine), Promoting a Controlled Substance In, On or Near Schools, Public Parks, or Public Housing Projects or Complexes, and Promoting a Detrimental Drug in the Third Degree.

Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree and Attempted Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First Degree are both class A felony offenses punishable by a maximum penalty of a twenty-year prison term. Promoting a Controlled Substnace in a Public Park is a class C felony offense punishable by a maximum penalty of a five-year prison term. If convicted as charged, Kapeli faces sentencing to a mandatory prison term and will not be eligible for probation. Additionally, Prosecutors have provided a notice that Kapeli is subject to an extended term of imprisonment.

Kapeli’s bail was set at $221,000. He remains in police custody pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Friday afternoon, February 2, in Hilo District Court.  

The charges are merely allegations, and the Defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The investigation was conducted by the Area I Vice Section, Hawai‘i Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Muñoz.

The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney remains dedicated to the pursuit of justice with integrity and commitment. Anyone having information concerning illegal narcotics distribution should call the Hawai‘i Police Department Vice Section in East Hawai‘i at (808) 934-8423, West Hawai‘i at (808) 329-0423, or Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.

The Hawai‘i Police Department is committed to working cooperatively with the community to improve the quality of life of island residents, and provide a safer environment for everyone. Police encourage residents to report suspicious and illegal activity to the police department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311.

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