Prosecutors: Hawaii man led meth ring while councilman

Full Screen
1 / 5

Kauai Police Department

This October 2019 booking photo provided by the Kauai Police Department shows Kauai County Councilman Arthur Brun, who was arrested Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 on drug and other charges. In October 2019, Kauai police pulled Brun over in a traffic stop after he was seen receiving meth from a gang leader, prosecutors said. U.S. prosecutors say Brun ran a meth ring while serving as an elected Kauai councilman and should be held without bail. (Kauai Police Department via AP)

HONOLULU, Hawaii – A Hawaii councilman pleaded not guilty Friday to charges accusing him of leading a drug-trafficking organization, supplying guns, conspiring with a gang leader, requesting sexual favors as payment for drugs and assaulting a law enforcement officer in a case that highlights the hold methamphetamine has on some people in the state.

Arthur Brun led a major drug-trafficking conspiracy involving 11 other defendants since at least June 2019, while serving as an elected member of the Kauai County Council, U.S. Attorney for Hawaii Kenji Price said.

Brun, vice chair of the council's Public Safety and Human Services Committee, pleaded not guilty in U.S. court in Honolulu.

Brun is a "politician who led a drug trafficking organization in the very community he was elected to represent,” Price said.

Prosecutors intend to ask the judge to order Brun held without bail at a detention hearing scheduled for next week. They say in court documents filed Friday that Brun obtained meth from a leader of the United Samoan Organization gang and had the drugs mailed to Hawaii from California.

Another co-defendant is a convicted felon who Brun used for protection, prosecutors said.

Brun “sometimes requested sexual favors as repayment for drugs he supplied,” prosecutors said in a motion asking for bail to be denied. They cited phone wiretaps and testimony by a defendant who is hoping for leniency at sentencing in a federal case.

Crystal meth, known locally as “batu” or “ice,” gained a stronghold across the islands long before becoming popular on the U.S. mainland. Mailing or shipping drugs to Hawaii became more common with increased airport security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when it got more difficult to smuggle drugs through air travel.