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Charges upheld for man with 4 pounds of crystal meth

Suspect is being held on $250K bail

WAILUKU — Drug charges against a 55-year-old Kahului man found with about 4 pounds of crystal methamphetamine during a search were upheld Thursday afternoon following a preliminary hearing in Wailuku District Court.

Second Circuit District Judge Douglas Sameshima found sufficient evidence to sustain the multiple drug charges against Erwin Fagaragan. He faces two counts of first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug (possession), two counts of first-degree attempted promotion of a dangerous drug (distribution), third-degree promoting a detrimental drug and three counts of possessing drug paraphernalia.

Fagaragan was being held on $250,000 bail at Maui Community Correctional Center. His initial appearance in 2nd Circuit Court is scheduled for Wednesday.

“This is a significant amount of crystal methamphetamine for one person,” said Maui police officer Alika Mullen, who executed the search warrant on Fagaragan and his residence.

In response to questions by Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones, Mullen estimated the street value of the 4.2 pounds of crystal methamphetamine at around $100,000, but added that the amount could be worth more if the drugs were broken down into smaller amounts and sold.

Mullen, who is with the MPD vice narcotics unit, testified that the largest crystal recovered was the “size of a tennis ball or so” and that some of the methamphetamine were in chunks in packets rather than broken down into powder.

The vice officer said in his testimony Thursday that he had three search warrants for Fagaragan on Sept. 2 and approached the defendant, who was walking from his car across the street to his residence at 368A Naholo Circle in Kahului.

There was another man with Fagaragan, who was detained briefly but was released since he was not the target of the investigation, Mullen said.

Fagaragan wore a work shirt, blue jeans and a neck gator and had a dark colored Dakine backpack on his right shoulder. He also had a lunch sack and a purple Hydro Flask, Mullen said.

During the search, 91.17 grams of methamphetamine in multiple packets, eight glass bulbous pipes and 5.59 grams of marijuana in a glass jar were found in his backpack, Mullen said.

In the search of the cottage, police found 1,850 grams of crystal meth and $21,000 in cash hidden in various places in the home. Mullen said $15,000 tied up with a rubber band was found in black cargo shorts behind a door and $5,100, also tied up with a rubber band, was wrapped in a towel in a Coach bag.

A notebook, which Mullen said could be used to track receipts and how much money was owed for drugs, was recovered. Police also found digital gram scales, scale calibrator weights and packets with drugs in the house. Contents of the packets ranged from 1 ounce of methamphetamine to 1 pound.

Mullen said he knew that Fagaragan was a convicted felon on parole. According to court documents, Fagaragan was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2006 for various charges, including felony drug charges.

During cross examination, Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal questioned Mullen about the other man found with Fagaragan when the search warrants were executed. While police did get the man’s identifying information, Mullen said he was not sure if a warrant check was made before the man was released.

Mullen noted that police had Fagaragan under surveillance for about two hours. He did not know if the other man was with the defendant during the entire surveillance period.

Lowenthal asked Mullen if anyone else could have been staying at the home. “I can’t say for sure,” he responded.

The third search warrant for Fagaragan’s phone was executed later, with data still being processed, Mullen said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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