East Hawaii News

Trio Arrested in Drug Smuggling Investigation

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Authorities have arrested three individuals following a suspected narcotics smuggling operation through the Kona International Airport at Keahole.

The incident occurred at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the Hawai’i Police Department.

Police report that Area II Vice officers at the Kona airport saw 32-year-old Kellen Foster of Kailua-Kona and 28-year-old James Bruno of Oceanside, Calif. exit a plane that came in from Los Angeles, enter a vehicle occupied by Kailua-Kona woman Jessica Tsibulski, and leave the airport.

The trio was stopped following a traffic violation on Queen Kaahumanu Highway, south of the airport intersection.


Once stopped, a narcotics canine screening on the vehicle resulted in a positive alert and all three individuals were arrested on suspicion of promoting dangerous drugs.

As officers conducted a search incident to the arrest of Tsibulski, two plastic packets containing a brown powdery residue were recovered. Tests on the packets were presumptive for heroin.

All three individuals were taken to the Kona police cellblock as the investigation continued by Vice detectives.


On Wednesday, body warrants were obtained by Vice officers for Foster and Bruno. The pair was taken to Kona Community Hospital.

Once arrived at the hospital, officer observed 40.8 grams of a brown tar-like substance suspected to be heroin smeared on the interior of the transport van in an area that was occupied solely by Bruno.

The execution of the body search warrants led to the recovery of 50.3 grams of a brown tar-like substance suspected to be heroin and 12.7 grams of a white crystal-like substance suspected to be methamphetamine from Bruno’s body. The suspected drugs were reportedly packaged in a manner that is consistent with the importation of narcotics.


Tsibulski was charged at 9 a.m. on Thursday with third-degree promotion of a dangerous drugs and possessing drug paraphernalia. Her bail was set at $4,000 and was posted early Friday morning.

HPD charged Bruno with first-degree meth trafficking, fire-degree promotion of dangerous drugs, tampering with physical evidence, second-degree criminal tampering, and three counts of possessing drug paraphernalia.

Bruno’s bail was set at $332,000. He remained at the cellblock as he awaited his initial court appearance Friday morning.

Foster was released from police custody pending further investigation of a potential charge of criminal conspiracy.

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