Four Defendants Indicted in Drug Trafficking Ring That Shipped Methamphetamine and Marijuana to Hawaii and New York
SACRAMENTO, CA—A federal grand jury returned an 11-count indictment today against Epati Malauulu, 40, of Suisun City; John Ortiz, 43, of Vallejo; Algernon Tamasoa, 26, of Sacramento; and Francisco Poloai, 43, of Dixon, charging them with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, attempted distribution of methamphetamine, distribution of marijuana, and use of a communications facility to facilitate a drug trafficking crime, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, beginning in August 2014 and continuing to June 4, 2015, the defendants were involved in shipping packages of methamphetamine from Vallejo and elsewhere to Honolulu, Hawaii, using the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx. On at least four occasions, investigators in Hawaii seized packages containing approximately 12 pounds of methamphetamine. On a separate occasion, investigators seized a package containing one pound of marijuana destined for Brooklyn, New York. On June 4, 2015, Malauulu, Ortiz, Tamasoa, and Poloai were arrested. Malauulu, Ortiz, and Tamasoa are in custody.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, the Fairfield Police Department, the Vallejo Police Department, and the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Christiaan Highsmith is prosecuting the case.
The investigation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that was established in 1982. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.
If convicted, Malauulu, Ortiz, and Tamasoa each face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. If convicted, Poloai faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.