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Hawaii Drug Threat Assessment
May 2002

Cocaine

The abuse of cocaine, particularly crack, is decreasing but remains a threat to the state. Pacific Islander independent dealers and Mexican criminal groups in Hawaii transport most of the cocaine into the state from the West Coast, typically using couriers on commercial flights or via package delivery services. These same independent dealers and criminal groups dominate the wholesale distribution of powdered cocaine in Hawaii. Pacific Islander independent dealers and Samoan and Tongan street gangs are the primary retail distributors of powdered cocaine and crack cocaine.

Abuse

Abuse of powdered and crack cocaine in Hawaii is decreasing. In 2000 cocaine ranked third--behind methamphetamine and marijuana--in the number of admissions for drug abuse in Hawaii. According to TEDS data, admissions to publicly funded treatment facilities for cocaine abuse in Hawaii increased from 513 admissions in 1994 to 692 in 1996, then decreased to 476 admissions in 1998, and 364 in 2000. According to a Center for Substance Abuse Treatment survey in 1995 and 1998, cocaine was the only drug for which there was a substantial decline in both abuse and treatment admissions for all age groups, both genders, and all ethnicities.

Fewer adult male arrestees in Honolulu tested positive for cocaine than for methamphetamine. In 2000 ADAM data indicate that nearly 16 percent of adult male arrestees tested positive for cocaine abuse. By comparison, nearly 36 percent of adult male arrestees tested positive for methamphetamine abuse.

Cocaine abuse among young people is limited and appears to be decreasing. Hawaii school age youths abuse cocaine less frequently than their peers nationwide. According to the 1999 YRBS, 7.8 percent of Hawaiian high school students reported lifetime cocaine abuse compared with 9.5 percent of high school students nationwide. The 2000 Hawaii Student Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use Study indicates that lifetime cocaine abuse among tenth grade student respondents decreased from 7.2 percent in 1993 to 3.5 percent in 2000; lifetime cocaine abuse among twelfth grade student respondents decreased from 8.2 percent in 1993 to 5.8 percent in 2000.

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Availability

Sufficient quantities of powdered cocaine and crack cocaine are available to meet user demand in Hawaii. Despite law enforcement reports indicating that cocaine availability has decreased significantly on Oahu and, to a lesser extent, on the other islands, cocaine prices have declined only slightly.

Ounce and gram prices for powdered cocaine decreased slightly from 1992 to 2000. Powdered cocaine in Hawaii sold for $1,200 to $1,800 per ounce in 1992 compared with $900 to $1,700 per ounce in 2000. Powdered cocaine sold for $150 per gram in 1992 compared with $100 to $120 per gram in 2000. The price of crack cocaine in 2000 ranged from $1,400 to $1,600 per ounce and $10 to $100 per rock. In 2000 powdered cocaine sold for $17,000 to $30,000 per kilogram. Prices for cocaine in Hawaii are generally higher than on the mainland. Purity levels for cocaine ranged from 60 to 85 percent in Hawaii, according to the DEA Los Angeles Division.

The number of cocaine-related federal drug sentences in Hawaii fluctuated between FY1996 and FY2000. According to U.S. Sentencing Commission data, Hawaii had 27 cocaine-related federal sentences in FY1996, 25 in FY1997, 16 in FY1998, 73 in FY1999, and 52 in FY2000. Furthermore, 35.1 percent of all federal drug-related sentences in Hawaii were cocaine-related in FY2000 compared with 44.2 percent nationwide.


Twelve Arrested in Raid on Suspected Drug House

Officers in Hawaii County arrested 12 individuals following a raid on a private residence on the island of Hawaii. Officers seized 7 grams of powdered cocaine and nearly 5 grams of crack cocaine as well as other drugs, drug paraphernalia, and cash. Police said those arrested were converting powdered cocaine into crack at the time of the raid.

Source: Hawaii County Police Department.

   

Violence

The distribution and abuse of powdered and crack cocaine are associated with criminal activity in Hawaii, including homicide, assault, and child abuse and neglect. Violent criminal activity frequently is associated with the retail distribution of cocaine. Street gangs that distribute crack cocaine commonly engage in violence when defending their territory from rival distributors.

   

Production

Coca is not cultivated nor is cocaine produced in Hawaii. Pacific Islander independent dealers and street gangs often convert powdered cocaine into crack locally to avoid the more severe federal penalties for transporting crack cocaine into the state. They use private homes or stash houses to convert powdered cocaine to crack.

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Transportation

Pacific Islander independent dealers and Mexican criminal groups are the primary transporters of cocaine into the state. According to Honolulu Police Department authorities, Pacific Islander independent dealers with ties to California, particularly Los Angeles and San Francisco, dominate the transportation of cocaine from California into Hawaii.

Most powdered cocaine is transported into Hawaii by couriers on commercial flights or via package delivery services. Couriers on commercial flights typically transport the drug into Hawaii in their baggage. Los Angeles is the major transshipment point for cocaine transported into Hawaii via commercial flights. According to 2000 Operation Jetway statistics, there were six cocaine seizures in Hawaii totaling almost 20 kilograms; four of those seizures originated in California.


Man Accused of Smuggling 12 Pounds of Cocaine

In April 2000 law enforcement officers arrested a California man en route to Maui after his plane landed at Honolulu International Airport. The man had 12 pounds of powdered cocaine concealed in two gift-wrapped boxes packed in his luggage.

Source: Hawaii HIDTA Airport Task Force.


Cocaine Seized From Two Females

In December 1999 Maui Operation Jetway Task Force officers seized 500 grams of cocaine from two females traveling from Los Angeles to Maui. One suspect hid the cocaine in a plastic bag in her bra, and the other suspect hid the cocaine in the hollowed-out soles of her sneakers.

Source: EPIC.


Task Force Officers Seize Cocaine

In June 1998 Honolulu Operation Jetway Task Force officers seized approximately 5 kilograms of cocaine from a male resident of Los Angeles traveling from that city to Honolulu. The suspect assisted task force officers in a controlled delivery that resulted in five additional arrests.

Source: EPIC.

   

Distribution

Pacific Islander independent dealers and Mexican criminal groups with ties to California and Mexico primarily distribute cocaine at the wholesale level throughout the islands. Pacific Islander independent dealers and Samoan and Tongan street gangs distribute cocaine at the retail level. Samoan street gangs with ties to gangs in Los Angeles and San Francisco convert and distribute crack cocaine in Hawaii. According to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2001, retail distribution of crack cocaine occurs primarily at open-air drug markets near congested low-income housing areas and in nightclubs. In suburban areas distribution occurs almost exclusively in private residences.

 


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