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Kaua‘i men arrested in $34,000 cocaine bust

LIHU‘E — Two Kaua‘i men could be facing heavy prison time after federal agents discovered 2 kilos of cocaine in a suitcase at Lihu‘e Airport last week.

Steven Ng, 39, and Daniel Moke, 65, are both in custody on felony drug charges that carry maximum sentences of more than 10 years.

On Wednesday, the court denied motions from prosecutors to hold both defendants without bail and set each of their respective bonds at $50,000.

Two criminal complaints detail the Drug Enforcement Agency effort that led to the arrests.

After learning that Ng might be trafficking cocaine between California and Kaua‘i, DEA investigators tracked his April 4 flight into Lihu‘e Airport and waited for him to arrive.

Agents approached Ng upon his landing, and he admitted that he was transporting cocaine in his suitcase. He consented to a search of his luggage, which yielded 2 kilos of the drug.

Ng told investigators that he had delivered drug-filled suitcases on three separate occasions in the past year, making $8,000 per trip.

The following day, another criminal complaint shows, Moke was contacted by a “cooperating defendant,” who appears to be Ng.

The pair arranged a meeting during which Moke gave the cooperating defendant approximately $34,000 in exchange for “what he believed to be cocaine.”

Moke was then placed under arrest, where he told investigators that he had purchased cocaine from the cooperating defendant’s supplier several times during the past year.

Ng was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, while Moke was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

Law enforcement sources list Lihu‘e Airport as the primary entry point for illegal drugs on island, transported either through mailed parcels or by travelers carrying the contraband in their luggage or on their bodies.

Police struggle to locate these drugs because of the various methods people use to conceal them and the sheer quantity of product that passes through the airport.

“Taping the drugs, masking the smell, concealing it on different parts of their body to make it look normal,” Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce told The Garden Island in an interview last year. “It’s very difficult to catch those for us. A lot of stuff goes undetected.”

These illegal drugs can have far-flung origins, often being originally produced in labs in China or Mexico. Ponce reported that the cocaine that ends up on Kaua‘i can often be traced back to South America.

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Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or gscrimgeour@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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