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More than 2 ounces of fentanyl seized in airport bust

KAILUA-KONA, Hawai‘i — A man and woman from Kailua-Kona, who were returning from California, were arrested and charged Dec. 29, 2023, at the Kona airport with fentanyl possession.

Izaiah Matthew Shields, 41, and Moriah Goulette, 37, were contacted by Area II vice officers at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole after they disembarked a flight from California.

Officers later allegedly recovered more than 60 grams (about 2.12 ounces) of fentanyl powder from Shield’s person and more than 4 grams of fentanyl powder inside an aluminum water bottle in Goulette’s possession.

“I am so blessed that I have young, out-of-the-box-thinking, creative officers,” said Area II Vice Lt. Edwin Buyten.” They developed information from source intelligence and did what they had to do.”

After spending quite a few weeks putting the case together, Buyten said his unit showed up at the airport with warrants when the couple flew into Kona.

“We were working with Homeland Security on this one. Our mission is always to look at the big picture and the organization versus just singular. The intelligence goes back to California and even up to the Pacific Northwest,” said Buyten.

Buyten stressed the importance of working with the community and other agencies to address the narcotics scourge on the island.

“We all need each other in today’s world when it comes to these investigations. For us, we are really good at sourcing intelligence of what’s happening in our community and developing that,” he said.

“Our limitations are Hawai‘i Island and the state of Hawai‘i, but we share that information with the long arm of

the law, in this case Homeland Security Investigations. They have the capabilities to reach out and follow up on these things.”

Buyten praised his team, noting they have continued to make these types of arrests despite the unit being short seven officers. His unit is budgeted for 17 officers and currently has 10.

“This team I have is very cohesive. These fentanyl dealers are getting really crafty. It’s a big chess game, but we are staying one step ahead,” he said.

Shields appeared in Kona District Court on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 3. Judge Kimberly Tsuchiya maintained Shields’ bail at $75,000.

Goulette made her initial appearance in Kona District Court on Tuesday, Jan. 2, and bail was maintained at $10,000. Following a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon, the District Court found probable cause existed, and then ordered Goulette to appear for arraignment on Jan. 12 in Kona Circuit Court.

Shields was charged with first-degree promoting a dangerous drug for possession of one and one-half ounce or more of fentanyl, and second-degree attempted promoting a dangerous drug.

Goulette was charged with a single count of third-degree promoting a dangerous drug.

First-degree promoting a dangerous drug is a class A felony offense punishable by either a 20-year prison term or 10 years probation and up to two years in jail.

Third-degree promoting a dangerous drug is a class C felony offense punishable by either a five-year prison term or four years probation and up to 12 months in jail.

Buyten encourages community members to report any information concerning illegal narcotics distribution to 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.

“We want to let the community to know we are working for them,” said Buyten.

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West Hawai‘i Today reporter Laura Ruminski can be reached at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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