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Hawaii HIDTA

General Information:
  Year of Designation:  1999
  Geographic Area of Responsibility:

Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii counties.

    Contact: (808) 356-4400

Mission Statement:

As the crossroad of the Pacific and gateway into the continental United States, the Hawaii HIDTA's participating agencies work together by means of integrated initiatives to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking in the State of Hawaii and in our Nation. With enhanced coordination and collaboration between Hawaii HIDTA agencies, illicit drug transportation, distribution, and usage shall be significantly reduced, thus enhancing public safety for all citizens.

Threat Abstract:

A multitude of illicit drugs are available to varying degrees in Hawaii, as in any populated area. These drugs can be categorized in three tiers based on the severity of the problems they pose to Hawaii's law enforcement and citizens. In the first tier are the two drugs causing the most serious problems, (ice) crystal methamphetamine and marijuana. Arrest and seizure data for both these drugs indicate that availability is high, while demand data suggest that use of both drugs, along with the consequences of that use, is high and increasing. Nonetheless, the magnitude of the crystal methamphetamine problem in Hawaii, a far more socially disruptive problem, overshadows marijuana, which has seen an increase in associated violence, but not nearly to the same extent. The second-tier drugs are cocaine (usually crack cocaine) and heroin which, although they remain problems in Hawaii, appear to rank well behind crystal methamphetamine and marijuana in contributing to the state's drug troubles. Cocaine-related arrests and seizures are on an upswing, but demand data suggest declining prevalence and consequences of use. At the same time, heroin distribution and abuse appear to be diminishing in light of indicators suggesting declines in arrests, seizures, reported use, and treatment.


In the third tier are drugs such as MDMA, GHB, steroids, and diverted pharmaceuticals, which are available and abused in Hawaii but to a much lesser extent. While it is imperative to continue combating these drugs and thus preventing them from becoming a larger problem in the future, it is the trafficking and abuse of primarily crystal methamphetamine as well as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin that currently pose the most viable drug threats to Hawaii.

International and local DTOs have ample opportunity to traffic those four drugs to, through, and from the area because of Hawaii's high volume of international and domestic air and sea traffic including passengers, cargo, and mail. Hawaii is the destination for crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin supplied from the West Coast and Mexico by Mexican Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs) and DTOs; for crystal methamphetamine and heroin transported from Asia, Canada, and the West Coast by Asian DTOs; and for marijuana transported from Canada and the Pacific Northwest by local DTOs. Hawaii is a trans-shipment point for methamphetamine transported from the West Coast to locations in the Pacific Basin, such as Guam, by local DTOs supplied by Mexican DTOs. It also is a trans-shipment point for methamphetamine transported from the West Coast or Asia to locations in the Pacific Basin by Asian DTOs. Finally, Hawaii is the source of high potency marijuana transported to the U.S. mainland, Canada and, to a lesser extent, Mexico by local DTOs.

The region covered by the Hawaii HIDTA comprises four counties. In addition to the threat from the presence of international and local DTOs; drug fugitives, armed violent drug offenders; smuggling, money laundering, and the use of public lands for cannabis cultivation plague the counties. Because of the way Hawaii's drug laws are written, a significant number of drug traffickers are identified but not prosecuted. Among the differences from county to county is that law enforcement in the County of Honolulu, far more than in the other counties, faces the challenge of illicit drug shipments by parcels through Honolulu International Airport and the International Mail Branch. DTOs in Kauai County, unlike in the other three, currently are not linked to CPOTs.

Strategy Abstract:

The Hawaii HIDTA Executive Board through its Oversight Committees has devised a clear, well planned, strategy to counter the drug threat facing Hawaii and the surrounding region. The process utilized by the Executive Board:

1)  Identifies primary threats by geographic area;
2)  Develops desired goals to counter the threats;
3)  Assigns responsibility to accomplish the desired goals;
4)  Evaluates effectiveness of the program's outcomes;
5)  Provides oversight and implements changes as necessary. This process is dynamic, ongoing, allowing for change and refinement.

For FY2005 law enforcement organizations will contribute a total of 311 (full and/or part time) law enforcement personnel and support staff, organized into 12 initiatives. Two additional far reaching initiatives will be implemented should supplemental funding become available.

Each of the initiatives and the investigative task forces target identified drug threats from the current HIDTA Threat Assessment. Each Hawaii HIDTA element is required to accomplish one or more of the following goals:

Disrupt/dismantle International, CPOT, RPOT, and Local drug trafficking organizations.


Interdict illicit drugs destined for Hawaii, or transiting Hawaii's airports and seaports, for the continental U.S. and other foreign destinations.

Reduce drug trafficking of methamphetamine, marijuana, heroin, cocaine and predatory drugs by major drug trafficking organizations engaged in smuggling, transportation, supply or distribution.
Reduce the number of firearms connected with drug trafficking and the number of drug fugitives operating within the Hawaii HIDTA.
Reduce money laundering crime related to drug trafficking.
Provide drug intelligence and investigative support to HIDTA initiatives.
Provide event deconfliction and electronic communication links among the island counties.
Provide administrative support and oversight for program coordination, planning, development, performance, and fiscal accountability of HIDTA resources.
Provide training that will advance the knowledge and coordinate the skills of HIDTA participating personnel.

Investigative Support Center:

The Hawaii HIDTA Investigative Support Center (ISC) provides tactical and strategic intelligence support to enforcement and interdiction initiatives in an effort to reduce drug trafficking in the State of Hawaii. To facilitate the availability and exchange of information, the ISC is collocated with several HIDTA initiatives and links electronically to other initiatives through the Western States Information Network (WSIN). Operation of the ISC provides full support to all HIDTA task forces and other law enforcement within the HIDTA region to achieve an intelligence-based approach to all counter-drug operations.

The ISC consists of two intelligence groups. The Investigative Support Group focuses on supporting on-going drug trafficking investigations primarily in the areas of communications analysis, association/link analysis, post seizure analysis, and event/subject deconfliction. The Strategic Support Group focuses on money laundering investigations and strategic reporting. The group collects, assembles, and disseminates data for the Hawaii HIDTA Threat Assessment and Annual Report, Trafficking Trends reports and other intelligence bulletins.

The collocated and commingled office space is configured to provide open access between investigative task forces and the intelligence component. This encourages free exchange of information between law enforcement officers and intelligence analysts. Because of Hawaii's unique island makeup, task forces and intelligence components on the outer islands maintain separate office facilities that justify their operational needs. Although there are separate facilities located on the outer islands they do maintain contact with the other initiatives through the ISC LAN/WAN, WSIN and various modes of communications (i.e., telephone, meeting, documents, etc.).

The Investigative Support Center is jointly managed by a DEA supervisor and a Honolulu PD supervisor and has sixteen personnel from the following agencies: DEA, HPD, HNG, ICE, FBI, USCG, HCPD, MPD, KCPD, and WSIN. In addition, the ISC has four contract intelligence analysts.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Fisheries Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Internal Revenue Service, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), U.S. Attorneys Office, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Inspector General.

State: Department of Public Safety, Honolulu Police Department, Hawaii County Police Department, Kauai County Police Department, Maui County Police Department, Hawaii National Guard, and State & County Prosecuting Attorneys.

Other: Western States Information Network (WSIN) and Contract Intelligence Analysts.

Significant Achievements:

Hawaii HIDTA initiatives initiated numerous cases during this period targeting CPOT, RPOT, and local drug trafficking organizations, money launderers, armed, violent offenders, and drug fugitives. Two investigations, in particular, resulted in arrests totaling approximately 100 people and disrupted or dismantled several drug trafficking organizations stretching from Oahu and Hawaii to California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Operation Shave Ice was the investigation of a DTO operating on the island of Hawaii (Big Island) that smuggled multiple kilo quantities of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine through U.S. Mail, cargo, and parcel shipments. Lines of supply originated from Mexico through California, Nevada, and Arizona. Analysis linked the DTO to two CPOT-designated targets. The investigation involved 16 wiretaps and resulted in the arrest and indictment of 60 individuals and the execution of over 50 search warrants on Oahu, the Big Island, California, Arizona, and Nevada. Investigative leads generated from cooperating defendants have resulted in significant spin-off investigations including one wiretap investigation, a series of buy-busts, and reverse operations resulting in 13 additional arrests.

Operation Swing Video resulted in members of the Money Laundering Asset Forfeiture Group arresting a video store owner indicted on 91 counts of money laundering. The individual was charged with managing and controlling a building that facilitated drug trafficking and drug use. For a $20 fee dealers were allowed to sell crack cocaine out of the video store which operated 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It was estimated that as high as $20,000 in unreported currency transactions occurred each day. This investigation led to the seizure of 2 condominiums, 2 cars, and various bank accounts. In addition, the video store was closed along with a service station owned by the offender that had been paid for with drug proceeds. The estimated worth of all of the seized assets exceeds $1 million. As part of the investigation, DEA arrested 38 alleged dealers and users in the state and elsewhere with connections to cocaine and methamphetamine suppliers in California and Arizona. If convicted, the offenders face up to 20 years in prison for managing a drug trafficking house as well as a maximum 20-year sentence for each of the 91 money laundering charges or 1,820 years in prison.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005