A federal grand jury has indicted two men in connection with the seizure on Kauai of a large amount of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $1.6 million.
Both Steve Orozco and Andrew Martinez pleaded not guilty at their arraignment in federal court in Honolulu today on meth trafficking charges.
Trial for both men is scheduled for July 12.
Kauai police arrested Orozco and Martinez, who are cousins, in March. Police said officers recovered plastic bags with about 7.34 pounds of methamphetamine. Police said they also recovered other illegal drugs and about $2,000 in cash and a stolen handgun.
Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry has said the amount of methamphetamine was the largest amount seized by the Kauai Police Department in a “single incident.”
Police said the meth has a street value of $1.6 million. Authorities say the popular drug sells in Hawaii for double what it goes for on the mainland, driven partly by demand and because there are limited ways of getting the drug to the islands. It can even be more expensive to buy crystal meth on outer islands than on Oahu, authorities said.
Seven pounds is a sizeable amount on an island that has a population of about 70,000 people.
According to a criminal complaint filed in court, Martinez told authorities that he moved to Kauai in 2006 with his girlfriend. His first-cousin, Orozco, moved in with them a few weeks before the arrest, the documents said, bringing with him a shoe box filled with gallon-sized plastic bags of crystal meth.
An informant led police to Orozco, who is from Stockton, California, the FBI said in the complaint. The informant arranged to buy meth from Orozco. Officers arrested Orzoco and Martinez at the Lihue Walmart parking lot after the drug deal, according to the complaint.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi allowed Martinez to be released to a Honolulu halfway house, with a curfew and other conditions. Martinez previously wanted to remain in the Honolulu Federal Detention Center, but had since changed his mind, his defense attorney Lynn Panagakos said.
Orozco must remain at the detention center.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.