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Kapaa man gets 7 years for meth conviction

LIHUE — A Kapaa man was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison for attempting to smuggle methamphetamine in the mail.

Abel Souza, 54, was caught on the receiving end of a 2.25-pound shipment of ice, which was intercepted by authorities in September 2018 after an ongoing investigation revealed that four envelopes addressed to a Kapaa residence were scheduled to arrive at the local post office, according to U.S. Postal Inspector Brian Shaughnessy.

In an affidavit attached to charging documents, Shaughnessy described the sting operation conducted by Kauai police officers and federal agents that led to Souza’s arrest.

After the parcels were seized, police replaced the drugs with decoy bags and added electronic monitoring devices to notify investigators when the packages had been opened. Then the envelopes were delivered to a house in Kapaa by a U.S. Postal Service inspector disguised as a mailman.

A few hours later, according to the affidavit, Souza pulled up to the house, took the mail inside, opened the envelopes, saw the beepers police had put inside and immediately realized he was in trouble. A minute after the beeper went off, Souza left the house in his truck, but he didn’t get far before realizing he was being followed by police.

“Officers attempted to make contact with the vehicle,” Shaughnessy wrote in the affidavit, but Souza “fled in a dangerous manner and sped away driving east on Kuamoo Road towards the Opaekaa Falls lookout area.”

He pulled over on a dirt road a few minutes later and was arrested.

According to court documents, Souza later admitted to paying $6,000 for one kilogram of ice — lab tests showed the methamphetamine was between 98% and 99% pure — and said he sells ice to “various individuals” for about $700 to $800 an ounce. At that rate, he would have made a profit of about $20,000 on the deal.

Souza pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Honolulu less than a week after his arrest to one count of attempted possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The charge carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years, but Souza was granted leniency in exchange for his full cooperation with federal authorities.

Souza will serve his 84-month prison term at a federal penitentiary in California or Oregon to be near family, and will be subject to four more years of supervised release. He will also have to complete a 500-hour residential drug-abuse treatment program.

“The things that I have done like sell and use drugs has caused not only pain and suffering for my family but also caused a lot of pain to a lot of families,” Souza wrote in a letter to the judge presiding over his case.

He said his arrest made him a better person and he intends to make the most of his time in jail, in hopes of “coming out to be the best man I can.”

A doctor who treated Souza in the year following his arrest also wrote to the judge on his behalf, describing him as “a model patient” who has since reconnected with his family and “become a productive member of our society.”

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Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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