Fern Forest drug bust nets hundreds of marijuana plants


By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Police have charged a 34-year-old Volcano man for allegedly growing marijuana at his Fern Forest home, and in an unrelated case, indictments have been handed down to two suspects in a “drug house” methamphetamine case.

Mark Jordan Singletary made his initial appearance in Hilo District Court on Friday afternoon. Judge Harry Freitas set a preliminary hearing for Monday at 2 p.m.

According to court documents filed by police, an aerial eradication mission flown by the state Narcotics Enforcement Division on May 3 discovered 24 plants growing outside on the Kaleponi Drive property where Singletary lives. Documents state that the plants “were destroyed in accordance with NED eradication guidelines.”

A search warrant was then executed on the property. Officers found an indoor growing operation and seized 263 marijuana plants between 2 and 3 feet tall “growing in plastic pots and rooting cubes within the resident under grow lights,” documents stated.

Also discovered, according to documents, was 8.9 pounds of dried marijuana, seven rootless marijuana cuttings or “clones,” a digital scale, smoking pipe, grinder and trimmers. Documents state that Singletary “waived his rights and admitted the marijuana and paraphernalia was his.”

Singletary does not have a valid medical marijuana card, according to documents.

He was charged with first- and second-degree commercial promotion of marijuana, third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug and two counts of drug paraphernalia. He was freed Friday on $19,250 bail.

First-degree commercial promotion of marijuana is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.

A search of Hawaii court records found no prior criminal convictions for Singletary.

And on Wednesday, a Hilo grand jury indicted 52-year-old Dalene P. Moreira of Keaau and 53-year-old Kevin Murota of Hilo with numerous charges stemming from a March 9, 2012, raid on a home at 368 West Kawailani St., across the street from the Hilo Municipal Golf Course.

According to police, a search warrant was executed on the home and officers found 5.3 grams of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice,” a small amount of marijuana and numerous items of drug paraphernalia.

Both suspects have been charged with attempted first-degree meth trafficking, second- and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and drug paraphernalia.

Police say a rifle and magazine were also found, and Moreira was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

On May 10, 2012, Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura granted then-Deputy Prosecutor Mitch Roth’s request for a temporary injunction evicting Murota, Moreira and five others from the property, which Roth called a “drug house.” The judge also ordered all of the home’s residents at the time to stay away from the property for 60 days.

Roth, who has successfully sought evictions in several drug house cases under the state’s nuisance abatement law, was elected county prosecutor in November

Attempted first-degree methamphetamine trafficking is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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