Drug-Smuggling Surf Magazine Founder Sentenced To Prison

As reported on www.kauaiworld.com

Former Hanapepe resident and surf magazine cofounder Mike Smith has been sentenced to 4 1/2 years in a federal prison, federal authorities said yesterday.

Mike and his brother, Curt Smith, were indicted by a grand jury in June for attempting to traffic roughly 5 kilograms of cocaine through Los Angeles International Airport to Kaua’i.

Mike Smith is still in pretrial detention in California but will be moved to a federal penitentiary once the bureau of prisons determines his placement, Assistant United States Attorney Rasha Gerges said yesterday.

California Central District Court Judge Audrey B. Collins sentenced Mike Smith to roughly 4 1/2 years imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to conspiring with his brother to distribute roughly 3,374 grams of cocaine; first by flying from Lihu’e to Los Angeles in order to purchase the drug in California and then attempting to return to Hawai’i with substance in hand to sell.

Los Angeles International Airport Narcotics Task Force officers arrested the brothers June 28, 2007, after receiving an anonymous tip that Mike Smith was transporting $100,000 worth of cocaine in his suitcase on an 8:46 a.m. flight scheduled two days prior, on June 26, from Los Angeles to Lihu’e.

When Drug Enforcement Agency officials arrived, a United Airlines agent informed them Mike Smith hadn’t checked in; later that day, an airlines employee informed the task force that Mike Smith had rescheduled his flight.

Officers then made an arrest of the Smiths on June 28, whereupon they seized 5,303 grams of cocaine and $40,000 in cash, according to the indictment.

Curt Smith pleaded guilty Sept. 5, 2007, to charges of conspiracy to possess a Schedule II narcotic with intent to distribute and possession of a Schedule II narcotic with intent to distribute; Mike Smith pleaded guilty to the same charges Oct. 18.

The more egregious charge, conspiracy to distribute, is punishable by up to 40 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of five years.

Gerges said Mike Smith was sentenced to the relatively short prison term of 4 1/2 years because he lacked a criminal history and the drug-related charges against him didn’t involve acts of violence.

Following the completion of his sentence, Mike Smith will be required to undergo a minimum four-year period of supervised release.

Though Gerges couldn’t comment on the sentence prosecutors are recommending in the Curt Smith case, she did say Curt was ineligible for the same sentence conditions.

Court documents in Curt Smith’s case state that the June 28 search that led to the brothers’ arrest was the second to involve Curt Smith and the DEA, as officials had seized $89,660 from him Nov. 16, 2006, at Los Angeles International Airport.

The cash and drugs that agents seized from the Smith brothers remain forfeited, Gerges said. In addition, each will be required to pay a $100 special assessment that is mandatory for any felony case, she added.

Kaua’i police had been investigating the Smiths for 10 years, according to the affidavit.

Probably best-known on-island for their magazine, Nalu Underground, the Smith brothers’ Westside magazine operation led to the production of a DVD entitled, “NU, the movie,” in May 2006. Though their magazine hasn’t been in publication since their arrests, visits to their publication’s MySpace page are still ongoing.

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