Five in Federal Custody After Marijuana Raid

U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo
U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo

HONOLULU (KHNL)- Federal authorities in Hawaii Tuesday announced they uncovered what is believed to be the single largest marijuana growing operation in state history.

A tip last November led to a routine aerial surveillance operation by Kauai police.  What they spotted was anything but routine

A large number of marijuana plants being grown on state land, at Mount Waialeale.

"Officers hiked to this ridge area and found thousands of pot plants being grown" said Hawaii's U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo.

"We found hundreds of grow bags containing dirt and remnants of mari plants which had been harvested for their buds and mature leaves".

Kubo says Instead of pulling the plants, the officers pulled back, and observed.

"Over the course of this year officers watched that site from another ride on the other side of the valley in order identify who was cultivating the marijuana plants".

Police identified Edward Holland, Holland's wife Melissa Ann Bihm, Holland's two sons Robert and Ryan Bihm, and Mark Steven Darling.

Kubo says these individuals were seen visiting the grow site on several occasions.

"They also were seen spending hours caring for and inspecting the plants, adding more dirt and dispersing fertilizer to the plants".

If convicted, four of the defendants face a mandatory sentence of 10 years to life in prison.

Holland faces a mandatory 20 years to life because of a previous  drug conviction,  for which he served four years in federal prison.

The street value of the plants is estimated to be 5 point 9 million dollars.