ARCHIVED To Contents To Previous Page To Next Page To Publications Page To Home Page
National Drug Intelligence Center
Hawaii Drug Threat Assessment
The availability, distribution, and abuse of heroin continue to present a threat to Hawaii. Heroin is widely available, and abuse of the drug continues to increase. Mexican black tar is the most common type of heroin available in the state. The availability of Southeast Asian heroin, which dominated the Hawaii heroin market in the 1970s and 1980s, is very limited. Mexican criminal groups and, to a much lesser extent, Asian criminal groups transport heroin from the West Coast to Hawaii using couriers on commercial flights or via package delivery services. Mexican criminal groups dominate distribution at the wholesale level, while street gangs dominate retail distribution.
The number of admissions to publicly funded treatment facilities for heroin abuse fluctuated between 1994 and 2000. According to TEDS data, admissions for treatment of heroin abuse fluctuated from 209 in 1994 to a high of 434 admissions in 1998. Admissions then decreased to 313 in 2000, according to TEDS.
Heroin abuse has increased among adults in Hawaii. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, the number of adults who abused heroin increased from 2,660 in 1995 to 8,100 in 1998. Two-thirds of these abusers reported frequent abuse--more than one or two times in 18 months. Reported lifetime heroin abuse increased from 0.3 percent in 1995 to 0.9 percent in 1998. Heroin abuse among males increased from 0.1 percent in 1995 to 0.6 percent in 1998, while abuse among females increased from 0.1 percent in 1995 to 0.5 percent in 1998.
Fewer adult male arrestees in Honolulu tested positive for heroin than for methamphetamine. ADAM data indicate that nearly 7 percent of adult male arrestees tested positive for heroin abuse in 2000; 36 percent tested positive for methamphetamine.
Rates of heroin abuse by school age youths in Hawaii are declining and are comparable to national rates. The 2000 Hawaii Student Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use Study indicates that lifetime heroin abuse among tenth grade students decreased overall from 4.1 percent in 1993 to 1.3 percent in 2000. Lifetime heroin abuse among twelfth grade students also decreased from 5.1 percent in 1993 to 1.8 percent in 2000. According to the 1999 YRBS, 2.3 percent of Hawaii high school students reported lifetime heroin abuse compared with 2.4 percent of high school students nationally.
Heroin is increasingly available in Hawaii. Mexican black tar is the most prevalent form of heroin and is widely available. Southeast Asian heroin was common in Hawaii during the 1970s and 1980s but currently is available only in very limited quantities.
In Hawaii heroin prices, like other drug prices, were significantly higher than on the mainland. In 2000 Mexican black tar heroin sold for $150 to $300 per gram in Hawaii. In comparison, Mexican black tar heroin sold for $80 to $100 per gram in Los Angeles, California, a major distribution hub. Mexican black tar heroin sold for $3,000 per ounce in Hawaii, compared with $850 to $1,000 per ounce in Los Angeles.
Decreasing heroin prices indicate that heroin is increasingly available in Hawaii. The price of wholesale and retail quantities of heroin decreased significantly from 1992 to 2000. Wholesale quantities of Mexican black tar heroin sold for $8,000 per ounce in 1992 and $3,000 per ounce in 2000, while retail heroin prices were $600 per gram in 1992 and $150 to $300 per gram in 2000. Retail heroin purity in Hawaii ranged from 50 to 75 percent, according to DEA.
The number of heroin-related federal drug sentences in Hawaii fluctuated between FY1996 and FY2000. According to U.S. Sentencing Commission data, Hawaii had 9 heroin-related federal sentences in FY1996, 6 in FY1997, 11 in FY1998, 26 in FY1999, and 15 in FY2000. Additionally, 10.1 percent of all federal drug-related sentences in Hawaii were heroin-related in FY2000 compared with 7.7 percent nationwide.
There have been reports of violence associated with heroin distribution and abuse in Hawaii, but such reports are generally limited. Heroin abusers typically are nonviolent, but some commit burglary or robbery to support their addiction.
Opium is not cultivated nor is heroin refined in Hawaii. The four main source regions for heroin are South America, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, and Mexico. The heroin available in Hawaii generally is produced in Mexico and, to a much lesser extent, Southeast Asia.
Mexican criminal groups and, to a much lesser extent, Asian criminal groups transport heroin into Hawaii, which is also a transshipment point for heroin from the West Coast to other Pacific Basin locations. Mexican criminal groups transport heroin from the West Coast, primarily Los Angeles, into Hawaii using couriers on commercial flights or via package delivery services. According to 2000 Operation Jetway statistics, there were eight heroin seizures in Hawaii yielding a total of over 3 kilograms.
Mexican criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors of heroin, and street gangs are the primary retail distributors of the drug in Hawaii. According to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2001, Mexican criminal groups dominate the wholesale distribution of Mexican black tar heroin in Hawaii. These criminal groups distribute the drug to street gangs, the primary retail distributors of heroin. Pacific Islander and other local independent dealers also distribute some heroin at the retail level. Heroin, packaged in balloons or papers containing one-eighth to one-quarter gram, typically is sold from private residences and bars. Retail heroin distribution commonly occurs within tightly knit communities.
End of page.