Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Hawaii
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
An Oahu Man and Two Maui Men Arrested In Connection with Drug Trafficking, Firearm, Illegal Gambling Business, and Money Laundering Charges
HONOLULU – Maliu Tauheluhelu, 37, Maafu Pani, 37, and Touanga Niu, 21, were arrested Friday, June 3, in connection with an indictment charging drug trafficking, firearm, illegal gambling business, and money laundering offenses. Desmond Morris, 38, is also charged in the indictment and has not yet been apprehended. The indictment was unsealed earlier this morning.
Tauheluhelu, Pani, and Niu are expected to be presented in Hawaii federal court as early as Monday, June 6, 2022, before United States Chief Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield.
A press conference was held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 6, 2022, at the Maui Police Department.
According to court documents, by the summer of 2020 and continuing until the date of the indictment, Tauheluhelu led a criminal organization that distributed methamphetamine and cocaine and operated illegal gambling businesses within the District of Hawaii. Pani oversaw the criminal organization’s drug trafficking and illegal gambling activities on Maui. Niu assisted the criminal organization with the transportation of controlled substances from Oahu to Maui and the transportation of unlawful proceeds from Maui back to Oahu, including through flights on an airline for which there was no Transportation Security Administration screening. At certain times, Morris participated in the criminal organization’s illegal activities by distributing and possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances on Maui.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Task Force Officers from the Maui Police Department, with assistance from the Maui Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The prosecution is handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah Smith.