By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A 35-year-old Hilo man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for attempting to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 ounces of methamphetamine.
U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor handed down the sentence to Francis S.K. “Bulla” Ogata, who was convicted on Jan. 11 after a five-day jury trial. Federal guidelines required Gillmor to sentence Ogata to at least 20 years imprisonment because of a previous conviction in 2005 on drug trafficking charges.
According to court documents, postal inspectors intercepted an express mail parcel from Las Vegas addressed to a Hilo post office box on Feb. 2 last year. After obtaining a search warrant, they discovered more than 5 ounces — about 145 grams — of methamphetamine, also known as “ice,” wrapped in plastic wrap and carbon paper inside a plastic container. Law-enforcement officers then removed most of the meth, replaced it with a sham material, then put a tracking device in the parcel and repackaged it.
Shortly before noon on Feb. 3, postal inspectors saw Ogata pick up the parcel and drive away. Police attempted to follow Ogata but lost him. About an hour later, they found and arrested Ogata at his Waiakea Uka home and recovered a baggie with a small amount of meth on the floor of Ogata’s Jeep.
According to the U.S. Attorney, the Hawaii Police Department assisted postal inspectors in the investigation. State court documents indicate that local police obtained a search warrant targeting Ogata after another individual told them he had bought an “eight ball” — slang for one-eighth of an ounce — from Ogata, after officers discovered narcotics in the man’s car following a traffic stop near Ainaloa Park on Jan. 30, 2012.
In state court documents, police described Ogata as “a high-level distributor of methamphetamine.” The documents stated that Ogata was also arrested by local police on March 24, 2011, and Aug. 27, 2011, for methamphetamine possession.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.