HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Oahu Community Correctional Center guard is suspected of trying to smuggle drugs and a cell phone into a housing unit where two suspects in a high profile murder case are being held, Hawaii News Now has learned.
Sources say the contraband shakedown happened in Module 13, where murder suspect Dae Han Moon and alleged accomplice Lance Bermudez are kept.
Moon is charged with the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Stevie Feliciano on Christmas Day in a parking structure at Ala Moana Center. Following an island-wide manhunt, Bermudez was arrested and charged for threatening a witness to the shooting.
When asked about the allegations, the state's Department of Public Safety would only confirm that contraband items were seized Thursday night. They declined to comment on exactly what items were recovered, from where they were recovered, or from whom they recovered, citing the ongoing investigation.
Defense attorney Victor Bakke, who has represented many detainees at the facility, says drug smuggling by guards and staff members is all too common.
"I had one client who was actually bribing the guards at Halawa to bring in the drugs to him, and he tested dirty on all of his drug tests and nothing was done," Bakke said.
The department says contraband searches are routine at all of its facilities, and that everyone who enters the OCCC must walk through security detection machines – even correctional officers and staff members.
Officials say they have the authority to conduct hands-on searches of staff and their belongings, but only when there is reasonable suspicion.
"It's just lazy. It's a very small environment, and how hard is it to control when it's your own employees?" said Bakke.
"If we are serious about cracking down on contraband that staff bring in, the most effective way of doing it is to conduct random, unannounced searches using deputy sheriff teams and drug sniffing dogs," added State Rep. Gregg Takayama, chair of the House Committee on Public Safety.