KONA, Hawaii Island — Police arrested four individuals at a cock fight in South Kona that drew an estimated 800 to 1,000 people to the illegal event on March 4.
“We gathered intelligence about the cock fight that took place approximately 2 to 3 miles mauka of Konawaena High School on a 500 acre property on Hokukano Ranch,” said Hawai‘i Police Department Area II Vice Lt. Ed Buyten.
Buyten said officers from the Hawaii Police Department’s Area II Vice Section, Area II Criminal Intelligence Unit, Kona Patrol, Area II Ice Task Force, and federal agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were about to execute a search warrant when there were reports of shots fired before the multi-agency raid took place.
“As we arrived on scene, participants were already fleeing, and it was an unknown participant that fired the shots,” said Buyten, adding there were no injuries.
He said when they arrived, their priority was the shots fired.
Buyten said it took three hours to get all of the cars off the property, noting there were a number of rental cars, indicating participants came from other islands.
Police arrested and charged four men for firearms offenses. Drugs and illegal firearms were recovered, along with U.S. currency and two vehicles for forfeiture.
Officers arrested and charged Chaddy Aukai, 23, of Ocean View, for one count each of place to keep a firearm and possession of a “ghost gun.” Aukai’s bail was set at $4,000.
James Medeiros, 32, of Waimea, was charged with third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug. His bail was set at $2,000, Kapono Hookahi, 31, of Waimea, was charged with for place to keep a firearm and place to keep ammunition. Hookahi’s bail was set at $2,500.
In addition, Eizan-James Medeiros, 21, of Waimea, was charged with two counts of place to keep a firearm and one count of possession of a “ghost gun.” His bail was set at $12,000.
All men posted bail and are scheduled for their initial court appearance in Kona District Court on April 6.
Police recovered approximately 14 live chickens and chicken boxes, extensive cockfighting paraphernalia, four dead chickens, three unregistered loaded pistols, ammunition, and a loaded .22 caliber long rifle from the premises. Police also seized small amounts of cocaine and marijuana, as well as $8,000 in U.S. currency and two pickup trucks for forfeiture.
In 2020, Animal Wellness Action released an investigation showing widespread illegal cockfighting and pinpointed the weakness in the state’s law. It is one of only eight states without state-based felony penalties for animals fighting.
The existing federal law, which may be strengthened by the FIGHT Act, does impose felony-level penalties for cockfighting on the island, for possessing fighting animals, bringing children to fights, and shipping or receiving fighting animals.
“The massive cockfight in Hawai‘i is a reminder that Hawai‘i’s weak anti-cockfighting law is not viewed as a deterrent to participating in this barbaric practice,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action.
“It is also a reminder that new federal legislation — the Fighting Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Trafficking (FIGHT) Act — is vital, given that it can provide a stronger federal layer of protection for animals at risk from these animal-fighting spectacles.”
Laura Ruminski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island