Drugs, gambling machines seized as part of multi-agency crackdown dubbed ‘Operation Firestorm’

“Operation Firestorm” kicked off early Wednesday and included the seizure of gambling devices and drugs.
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 2:56 PM HST|Updated: May. 10, 2023 at 4:16 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police on Wednesday announced a massive, multi-agency crackdown on illegal game rooms, sex trafficking operations and drug houses that officials said are making communities unsafe.

“Operation Firestorm” kicked off early Wednesday and included the seizure of gambling devices and drugs.

Authorities say the crackdown included four raids from Ewa Beach to Nanakuli resulting in at least three arrests.

The first raid happened at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in Kapolei when Mitchel Glen Payton, 33, was arrested for electronic enticement of a child.

HPD said Payton also had drugs on him.

“Operation Firestorm” kicked off early Wednesday

Then at 6 a.m., officers staged a raid in the Ewa Beach area and arrested Dennis Dean Avila, 57, and Daniel H. Arakaki, 53, and seized methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

At 10 a.m., officers visited four massage parlors for investigation of sex trafficking and labor violations, but no arrests were made.

And then at 2 p.m., three illegal game rooms were raided simultaneously in the Nanakuli area. HPD said 38 gambling machines worth $300,000 were seized in those raids, along with three ounces of methamphetamine and 50 OxyContin pills.

Police also noted that those game rooms have been investigated in the past.

“Some of them do have, we’ve had several violations over time. And that’s why we’re going to work very closely with our prosecutors, as well as potentially some federal nuisance abatement pathways,” said HPD Maj. Mike Lambert, of the Narcotics Division.

Officers from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service were also involved in the raids. HPD said those arrested could potentially face federal prosecution.

“More calls are made by our citizens in their neighborhoods, about drug houses, and about gambling houses than anything else,” said city Prosecutor Steve Alm.

“They attract criminals, they attract the wrong type of folks, there are multiple shootings at these locations.”

Lambert said the operation was a successful one.

“We hope to do more of these to ensure the community that we are out there, we’re working hard, we’re collaborating at all levels and we will make an impact in the areas of concern,” Lambert said.

“They are unfortunately prominent on our Waianae Coast. And we do realize that they do create a negative impact to that community. So we just wanted to make sure that our Waianae constituents out there understand that we are paying attention and we are providing resources to them,” he added.

Officials said more arrests are likely, along with more raids in other parts of the island.