Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023 |
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Two men are due back in court later this month to enter pleas to a slew of drug offenses filed after a search warrant earlier this month on a vehicle turned up ounces of fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana.
Pueo J. Francois, 38, of Kona and 61-year-old Abdur Ali-Woods, of Sacramento, California, each face up to two decades behind bars after police reportedly turned up the drugs, valued at over $54,000, after a traffic stop on Jan. 3.
Their arrests came after the Hawaii Police Department’s Vice section’s investigators obtained information that a man, later identified as Ali-Woods, was flying from out of state to Hawaii Island in possession of possible powdered fentanyl to distribute. In addition, investigators learned Francois was in possession of powered fentanyl.
After Ali-Woods’ arrival on island, an investigative traffic stop was conducted on a rental vehicle being operated by Francois in which Ali-Woods was a passenger in Kona. The vehicle was screened by a Hawaii Police Department narcotics K9, and after the K9 alerted to the scent of narcotics, both men were taken into police custody and the vehicle was towed to the Kealakehe Police Station.
Officers subsequently obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and reportedly recovered nearly 50 grams of fentanyl, more than 20 grams of methamphetamine, 45 grams of heroin, and 21 grams of marijuana. The drugs, according to police, had a combined street value over $54,000. Officers also seized $786 in cash for forfeiture.
On Wednesday, Ali-Woods and Francois were each charged with 11 counts, including two counts first-degree promoting a dangerous drug, three counts attempted first-degree promoting a dangerous drug, two counts second-degree promoting a dangerous drug and one count each third-degree promoting a detrimental drug, third-degree promoting a dangerous drug, promoting a controlled substance in, on, or near public housing projects or complexes and possessing drug paraphernalia.
Police set bail at $321,250 for each man pending their initial court appearances on Thursday before Kona District Court Judge Kimberly Taniyama.
During the hearing, each saw his bail reduced before a preliminary hearing was set for Friday.
Francois had his bail reduced to $50,000 for eight of the 11 counts and was released on his own recognizance for the three counts of attempted first-degree promoting a dangerous drug. Prosecutors had asked the court to maintain bail at $321,250.
Ali-Woods’ bail was also reduced for eight of the 11 counts to $171,250. Like, Francois he was released on his own recognizance for the attempted criminal offenses. The state did not object to the defense’s request for reduction of bail.
On Friday, a combined preliminary hearing was held for both defendants before Judge Joanna Sokolow. After hearing testimony from an officer, the judge determined probable cause existed to support the 11 offenses filed against each man and forwarded their cases to Circuit Court for further proceedings.
Francois and Ali-Woods are each scheduled to appear for arraignment in Kona Circuit Court. Both men remained in custody as of press-time Monday.
Each faces up to 20 years behind bars if convicted of the most serious offense, first-degree promoting a dangerous drug, which is a Class A felony.
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