Redwood City man’s arrest reveals secret California to Hawaii meth ring, alleged motive for social worker’s targeted killing

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

SAN FRANCISCO — A Bay Area man has been extradited to Hawaii to face charges that he shot and killed a social worker on the island of O’ahu over a dispute involving a significant amount of methamphetamine.

Filimone Tavake, 36, is due to appear in federal court Thursday to be arraigned on a murder charge in the March 2021 death of Malakai “Mo” Maumalanga.

The crime shocked the community of Aiea in Honolulu, where Maumalanga was killed, and revelations about the alleged motive only added fuel to the fire. Authorities claim Tavake killed Maumalanga over eight pounds of methamphetamine that were advanced to Maumalanga but never paid for and that Tavake warned him things were escalating to the “no talking part” before the shooting.

Media reports in Hawaii describe Maumalanga as a former gang member who spent 20 years counseling at-risk youth and working for nonprofits.

Tavake was arrested on March 22 in Redwood City, almost three years to the day after he allegedly shot and killed Maumalanga in a carport at Maumalanga’s apartment. Authorities allege the eight pounds of methamphetamine were found in Maumalanga’s apartment after the killing and that Tavake got on a plane to San Francisco the day after the shooting. Two guns were used to kill Maumalanga, police said.

In court papers, federal prosecutors have described Tavake as a drug dealer, alleging that they tracked his wire transfers from Hawaii to San Mateo and Redwood City totaling roughly $59,000 over three years, while also noting that he “deals primarily in cash.” They allege Tavake was linked to the homicide by evidence showing his phone linked to the suspects’ rental car and that Tavake and Maumalanga talked on the phone shortly before Maumalanga was killed.

Additionally, federal authorities say they did controlled undercover methamphetamine buys from Tavake in 2022, and spoke to a witness who told them Tavake “has individuals that are able to assist him in transporting drugs into Hawaii on airplanes.” Text messages between both men also indicate tensions were rising between them, due to the unpaid debt.

“They’re getting to the no talking part because you say one thing and it don’t meet deadline,” Tavake allegedly wrote in one message about three weeks before the killing. “There (sic) getting fed up with story.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.