State arrests 11, confiscates marijuana plants, crossbow in closed area of Kalalau

Eleven people were arrested Thursday morning in the Kalalau section of Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.

Officers from the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) arrested them for being in a closed area without valid permits.

A 20-year-old man, who could not produce an identification, was handcuffed and flown out of the park and booked on charges at the Kauai Police Department.

This follows 17 arrests earlier this month, and more than 200 citations and arrests over the past two years.

Enforcement officers hiked up the rugged Kalalau Valley and discovered a number of illegal squatter camps Wednesday.

At two, they pulled up small marijuana plants. At one, they confiscated an illegal crossbow. Both camps were well established and elaborate, officials said. One had a pizza oven, an enclosure with a queen-sized bed, what appeared to be an alcohol still, and an extensive system of solar and battery powered lights for its marijuana growing operation.

DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell called the discovery a real eye-opener.

“It reminded me of some of the illegal operations from my experience in California with illegal marijuana growth. Some of these folks are back there with substantial operations, large amount of resources, and things that are impacting the natural environment,” he said. “It was the first trip back there for me to see the logistics and the type of terrain that we’re trying to enforce the park rules on, and it’s very challenging. I got a first-hand, close-up look at the challenges that we face in enforcing and also managing the valuable cultural and natural resources back there.”

The state says it will continue to conduct “zero-tolerance” enforcement operations in order to restore Hawaii’s largest and most remote state park to its true wilderness character.

Officials also encourage the public to report illegal activity by calling DLNR’s enforcement hotline at (808) 643-DLNR (3567).

Photos provided by DLNR:

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