A Washington State man was indicted in federal court on several drug charges after he was arrested on Hawai‘i Island on suspicion of possession and distribution of fentanyl, methamphetamine and heroin, officials announced Friday, Feb. 25.
Forty-eight-year-old Eustakio Estrada-Castillo was initially arrested on Nov. 29, 2021, at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport by Hawai‘i Police Department Area II Vice officers in relation to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin charges. The multi-agency Hawai‘i County and federal law enforcement investigation resulted in the recovery of over 8,000 fentanyl pills, nearly 2.5 pounds of fentanyl powder, and approximately 5 pounds of methamphetamine on Hawai‘i Island.
Lt. Edwin Buyten with HPD’s Area II Vice Section said the arrest alone removed the fentanyl from the streets.
“A small amount of fentanyl can be deadly. I believe we saved lives because of that,” Buyten told Big Island Now on Friday, Feb. 25.
Through the course of their investigation into Estrada-Castillo, HPD Vice detectives identified a drug supply between Washington State and Hawai‘i Island.
“I think organizations that function in small pockets and groups have identified Hawai‘i and the Big Island as a good market,” Buyten said, adding the commerce markup for any product is greater in the state than in the continental U.S.
Buyten said this case was a collaborative effort to attack the fentanyl drug problem.
“We’re going to continue that collaboration to identify those groups bringing drugs into the community,” he said. “We gotta play the game at a higher level if we want to be successful.”
Estrada-Castillo was indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute meth, fentanyl and heroin; two counts of distribution of fentanyl and distribution of meth. The offenses are alleged to have taken place between August and November of 2021.
According to court documents, Estrada-Castillo sold multiple quantities of meth, heroin and several hundred tablets of fentanyl to a contact in West Hawai‘i. Days before his arrest in November, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service inspector confirmed two packages were shipped from Los Angeles to an address known to the suspect’s contact on Hawai‘i Island. A search warrant was obtained and court documents indicate one of the parcels contained 1,380.8 gross grams of suspected methamphetamine. The second package contained 922.8 gross grams of suspected methamphetamine.
“This case displays Hawai‘i County law enforcement’s commitment to addressing drug concerns in our community by prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of narcotics distributors and traffickers,” Hawai‘i County Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen stated Friday. “We are increasing multi-agency collaboration with law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels.”
Waltjen said drug offenders often face harsher and “more appropriate penalties” in the federal court system, given the structure of the federal sentencing guidelines, which include longer mandatory prison terms and lengthier sentences for serious offenders.
On Dec. 23, 2021, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfeld ordered that Estrada-Castillo be detained without bail pending his jury trial, which is now scheduled for Aug. 29, 2022.
The investigation was a collaboration between local and federal agencies including the Hawai‘i Police Department’s Area II Vice Section and Special Enforcement Unit, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Services, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Hawai‘i County Prosecutor’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Hawai‘i. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Muehleck.
This is the fourth federal indictment announced by Hawai‘i County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office this week.
Jeremy John Jensen of Ocean View was charged with possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and a detectable amount of heroin, carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
44-year-old Timothy Nacis of Pa‘auilo was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess and attempted possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.
47-year-old Michael Kaonohi Perry of Kona was charged with possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.