Kauaʿi police arrest 2, seize machines, firearm, meth related to illegal game room

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FILE – Moleni Koli (left) and John Taulung Jr. (right), Kauaʿi, Hawaii, Aug. 21, 2021. (Kauai Police Department photo)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Kauaʿi police arrested two men on suspicion of offenses related to illegal gambling on Thursday, Aug. 19, and said about a dozen machines, a handgun, ammunition and methamphetamine were seized as part of the investigation.

Police said they worked with the U.S. Marshals Service on Thursday to execute search and arrest warrants at an industrial complex in the Kawaihau District that allegedly contained an illegal game room.

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Authorities identified 36-year-old Moleni Koli of Anahola, Kauaʿi and 29-year-old John Taulung Jr. of Kaimuki, Oahu as the men who were arrested in connection to the investigation.

Officials initially seized about 12 gambling machines, a truck and an undisclosed amount of cash during Thursday’s raid on Kuahale Street. Police said a second truck was located and seized on Friday, Aug. 20, as part of the ongoing investigation.

FILE – Kapaʿa game room, Kauaʿi, Hawaii, Aug. 21, 2021. (Kauai Police Department photo)

A handgun, ammunition and methamphetamine were recovered after police executed search warrants on both trucks.

“Prior to and during the pandemic, illegal game rooms have become more prevalent across the state. Oftentimes, these places coincide with other illegal activities, such as the distribution of dangerous drugs and the sale of unregistered firearms. What’s more, they have also been also been tied to violent crimes.

“We are committed to shutting down any illegal operation in our community and I’m grateful to our officers, as well as those who partnered with us on this investigation, because our eastside community is now safer due to everyone’s diligent efforts.”

Investigative Services Bureau assistant chief Bryson Ponce

Police said Taulung was charged in connection to second-degree promoting gambling before he was released pending investigation.

Koli was charged in connection to second-degree assault, third-degree promoting a dangerous drug and two counts each of ownership prohibited and place to keep. Police said Koli remains in police custody and said his bail was set at $500,000.

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Kauaʿi residents can call police at (808)-241-1711 to report suspicious activity related to gambling or they can click here to submit an anonymous report to Crime Stoppers Kauaʿi.

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