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Friday, February 5, 2021
Feds link Bay Area man to California/Hawaii coke smuggling ring, illegal gambling hall
By News Release @ 12:47 PM :: 8675 Views :: Ethics, Police, Drugs

Feds Again Doing the Job the State Won’t Do:  Ex-Husband of HPD Officer’s Druggie Girlfriend found with 24 pounds of cocaine

Individual indicted for drug trafficking and firearms possession

News Release from USDoJ, January 26, 2021  (See UPDATE below)

Honolulu, Hawaii – Ping Hong Lee of Honolulu, Hawaii, was arraigned today before Magistrate Judge Wes R. Porter on an indictment charging conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He pleaded not guilty to the offenses. Trial is scheduled for March 30, 2021 before Senior District Court Judge Helen Gilmore

US Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji M. Price announced the charges.

As set forth in court filings, on January 13, 2021, law enforcement officers observed Lee, the lone occupant of a 2018 Porsche Macan GTS, pull into the pick-up area of a Waikiki Hotel. While there, a male entered the backseat of the Porsche with a dark blue duffle bag and then exited without the dark blue duffle bag. After Lee drove away, law enforcement officers tried to conduct a stop of the Porsche but were unsuccessful. The Porsche and Lee were found minutes later. Within the Porsche, law enforcement officers recovered approximately 11 kilograms (approximately 24 pounds) of cocaine from within the dark blue duffle bag, a loaded Charter Arms .38 caliber pistol, and US currency.

As charged in the indictment, Lee has a prior 2012 federal drug distribution felony conviction.

The charges announced today are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of the charges, Lee faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years of incarceration and up to life.

The case was investigated by the DEA. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren W.K. Ching.

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Feds link Bay Area man to California/Hawaii coke smuggling ring, illegal Hawaiian gambling hall

UPDATE SJM Feb 4, 2021: … A Redwood City man has been arrested and charged with possessing at least five kilograms of cocaine for distribution, after state and federal authorities spent weeks tracking him and his cousin’s flights between Hawaii and California, court record show.

Javier Chavez, 45, is in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin awaiting extradition to Honolulu, where he faces federal cocaine trafficking charges along with his co-defendant, Ping Hong Lee, court records show. The criminal complaint details how federal authorities tracked Chavez for weeks seeking evidence of his involvement in a cocaine trafficking ring. They were mostly unsuccessful, until authorities in Hawaii pulled over a Porsche with Lee and Chavez inside, and allegedly found a duffle bag with 23 pounds of cocaine inside….

The criminal complaint alleges that authorities were investigating Chavez’s cousin, who is referred to only as “Individual 1,” for alleged cocaine trafficking from the Bay Area to Hawaii. Individual 1 was also suspected of working to retrofit a Hawaiian bar, described as a “known hangout” for drug traffickers, into an illegal gambling den.

The federal investigation started with a tip from Hawaii Department of Public Safety Dep. Dexter Kauahi to a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, the complaint says.

“Deputy Kauahi stated that Individual 1 allegedly travelled from California recently with (approximately 22 – 33 pounds) of cocaine,” DEA Task Force Officer Sean Springer wrote in the complaint. “Deputy Kauahi also stated that he learned that Individual 1 had recently returned to San Francisco with $400,000- $500,000 of United States currency to purchase more narcotics and is due to return to Hawaii.”

After the tip, federal authorities tracked Chavez and Individual 1 as they booked flights between Hawaii and California. They followed the men around airports in San Francisco and Hawaii, watched them hang out at the American Airline’s Admiral Club, and even took note of their trips to the men’s room. On Jan. 13, Springer asked Individual 1 to consent to a search of his bags at the Honolulu airport. Individual 1 appeared “nervous and shaky” to the officer, but the search turned up nothing illegal, the complaint says.

But the following day, authorities in Hawaii spotted Chavez and Individual 1 leaving the Hawaiian Monarch hotel in Honolulu and saw Chavez — carrying a blue duffle bag — enter a Porsche being driven by Lee, the complaint alleges. They attempted to stop the Porsche but it sped off and authorities decided to discontinue the chase. But five minutes later, a Honolulu police squad car pulled over the Porsche….

read … Feds link Bay Area man to California/Hawaii coke smuggling ring, illegal Hawaiian gambling hall

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SA: Honolulu man found with 24 pounds of cocaine is indicted for drug trafficking

Most Intelligent Comment: “Did a search and his former wife Athena Lee was convicted of growing lots of weed in her home although she took weed for a medical condition. Athena Lee had a boyfriend who was a cop Michael Chu who was convicted for growing and distributing weed supposedly on behalf of Athena. The story said Ping Lee was convicted of illegal pill distribution in 2011 and was given an 87 month prison sentence.”…

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2012: Police officer’s girlfriend pleads guilty to marijuana growing

Athena Sui Lee said in U.S. District Court Tuesday that when she told her boyfriend, Honolulu police officer Michael Steven Chu, that she wanted to use marijuana to treat her health ailments, “he want do legal way; that’s why we have medical (marijuana) card.”

Lee pleaded guilty to conspiring to cultivate 48 marijuana plants and possess to distribute 49 pounds of processed marijuana in connection with indoor growing operations in her Kapiolani Boulevard apartment and Chu’s Mililani home. She faces up to five years in prison at sentencing in November.

Chu is scheduled to plead guilty Thursday.

Lee said she and Chu have been growing marijuana ever since her husband left her.

Lee’s husband, Ping Hong Lee, has been in federal custody since his arrest on July 21, 2011, for possessing with intent to distribute about 7,000 tablets of the synthetic drug known as ecstasy. He pleaded guilty and is serving an 87-month prison sentence. Athena Lee filed for divorce on Aug. 2.


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