By R. Mitchell –
HONOLULU – Fifteen individuals were charged in U.S. District Court today with illegal gambling, money laundering and other financial violations related to an ongoing investigation of a criminal organization operating multiple illegal game rooms and casinos on the island of Oahu.
The charges are the result of a two-year probe led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with substantial assistance from the Honolulu Police Department, and follow the execution of search and arrest warrants by HSI yesterday.
“These enforcement actions demonstrate a renewed effort by HSI and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii to target the activities that fund organized crime,” said John F. Tobon, acting special agent in charge for HSI Honolulu. “The proceeds of illegal gambling often lead to drugs and guns on our streets, human trafficking and other nefarious activities that threaten our public safety. HSI remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to shut down vulnerabilities in U.S. financial sectors that can be exploited by criminals.”
The following defendants were charged with conducting, financing, managing, supervising, directing, or owning a gambling business operated out of a single-family residence from October 2018 to August 2019 at 94-103 Pupupuhi Street in Waipahu:
- Zongqi Ding, 33
- Tommy Can Wei Lee, 50
- Zhong Chen, 38
- Endrews Setefanim, 31
- Paolo Ioane, 30
- Matthew Samuela, 31
The following defendants were charged with conducting, financing, managing, supervising, directing, or owning an illegal gambling business operated out of a single-family residence from October 2018 to August 2019 at 1577 Hoolehua Street in Pearl City. Additionally, Siatunuu was charged for the July 22, 2019 robbery-at-gunpoint at that address, after the customer won an estimated $4,000 playing an electronic video game.
- Jason Ishizuka, 38
- Aiyan Ahange, 33
- Seng Long Lio ,30
- Shi Min Huang,33
- Alex Hui Zhang, 29
- Freddy Siatunuu, 31
Kenneth Puahi, 47, was charged with arson of a building used for interstate commerce. According to the indictment, during 2018, Puahi leased a space in a commercial warehouse located at 94-170 Leoole Street in Waipahu. The warehouse owners learned about suspected unlawful gambling taking place in the space and took steps to evict him. On, April 14, 2019, Puahi maliciously damaged and attempted to damage the warehouse by setting it on fire.
Pauulu Lavatai 21, was charged with robbery and using a firearm to commit a crime of violence. According to the criminal complaint, on February 3, 2019, Lavatai and an unidentified male entered an illegal game room located on Liliha Street. The pair pistol whipped the security officer, took money from a female cashier and fled the scene.
Ifo Nimoai, Jr., 35, was charged with drug trafficking and for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. According to the criminal complaint, on November 29, 2018, he possessed methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana – with the intent to distribute, along with the ammunition and a .45 caliber pistol.
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