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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (July 2, 1999 - PACNEWS/Radio Tonga)---A United States federal jury has convicted a 32 year old Tongan man and three others for their involvement in a massive international drug ring.

Prosecutors in Honolulu said the defendants imported as much as 1,100 pounds of cocaine worth millions of dollars from the U.S. mainland to be distributed in Hawai‘i and four Pacific countries.

Richard Brown Taumoepeau, who is also known as Tiki Taumoepeau, was described by prosecutors as the leader of the cocaine importing organization that transported drugs to Hawai‘i, New Zealand, Australia, Guam and Tonga between 1990 and 1997.

The jury convicted him of the drug conspiracy.

Also convicted of the charge were Hawaiian Jetsu Neiyoshi and two other Tongans, Siokatame Hafoka, 49, and 34 year old Siosaia Liufau of drug conspiracy.

Tiki Taumoepeau and the three co-defendants all face prison terms of ten years to life imprisonment when they are sentenced in October.

The arrest resulted from an organized crime drug enforcement task force investigation -- that started in 1992 -- into what prosecutors said was an operation that included young Tongan adults recruited by Taumoepeau.

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