While federal agents with a warrant were knocking on a door to a luxury Honolulu apartment on a December morning in 2012, agents watching from the ground saw men tossing bags of crystal meth over the 15th-floor balcony.
"The bags burst upon making contact with the walkway in the lobby of the building, causing a large quantity of a whitish crystalline substance to disperse all over the sidewalk area," a Homeland Security Investigations agent described in an affidavit filed in the case.
About 3 pounds of meth blanketed the sidewalk, the court document said.
A pound of crystal meth sells for about $20,000 in Honolulu — double what it goes for on the mainland. The drug is in high demand in an island state where there are limited ways for it to arrive.
The three men in the One Waterfront Towers apartment unit were arrested and charged with being part of a drug-trafficking ring. In 2013 they accepted plea deals.
The last of the trio, Claude Sorrells, was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison. Last year Linton Nicholson received a sentence of about 10 years, and Thomas Jackson was sentenced to five years.
According to their plea agreements, the three of them flew from Sacramento, Calif., to Honolulu a few days before the raid. The meth was smuggled to Hawaii in a suitcase Jackson got from Nicholson, the documents said. They planned to sell the drugs in Honolulu.
Sorrells had a .38-caliber revolver and 36 rounds of ammunition in the apartment to protect him and the two others from being robbed of the drugs and drug money, his plea agreement said.
The criminal complaint in the case said Nicholson and Sorrells were listed as the tenants of the unit, paying monthly rent with a combination of Western Union money orders and checks. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the complex in Kakaako currently ranges from about $3,500 to $4,200 a month.