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April 1, 2016Honolulu, HI, United StatesContraband, Narcotics

Honolulu man convicted of drug trafficking receives life sentence

HONOLULU – A Honolulu man convicted of smuggling large quantities of methamphetamine from California to Hawaii was sentenced Thursday to life in federal prison without the possibility of parole, following a multiagency probe spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Gilbert Lee Medina, 52, was sentenced by Senior District Judge Helen Gillmor. Medina was convicted by a jury last year of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Medina’s two prior drug felony convictions in California made imposition of the life sentence mandatory. There is no parole under current federal criminal law.

According to the evidence presented at his trial, Medina was at the center of a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy that was active for at least 12 months from April 2012 to April 2013, and was responsible for well over 20 pounds of methamphetamine being brought from California to Hawaii. Medina received the methamphetamine from multiple sources and distributed it to other members of the conspiracy in Hawaii.

Evidence in the case also established that Medina unlawfully possessed a firearm on his boat docked at the Ala Wai harbor. Prosecutors established that Medina attempted to use a false identification at the Honolulu International Airport in an effort to flee Hawaii in May 2013, leading to an additional charge of attempting to enter the secured area of the airport by presenting false identification. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials did not permit Medina to get past security, and ultimately he was arrested.

“This sentence is a stern warning that those individuals who repeatedly participate in drug trafficking risk being severely punished for their criminal conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni.

“Methamphetamine is a vicious drug that destroys lives, devastates our communities, and seriously compromises the public’s safety,” said Michael Carney, acting special agent in charge for HSI Hawaii. “The sentence in this case is fitting of the serious crimes committed by the defendant. HSI along with its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners are committed to combatting the serious threat methamphetamine poses to the well-being of our communities.”

In addition to HSI, several other agencies provided substantial assistance with this investigation, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. TSA at Honolulu International Airport also contributed significantly to the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony R. Roberts handled the prosecution.