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Strategic Drug Threat Developments

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HIDTA Overview

Hawaii's unique geography, isolated location, heavy reliance on importation of commodities, high volume of tourist and commercial traffic, and diverse demographics provide excellent opportunities for illicit drug trafficking and pose considerable challenges to law enforcement. As such, the Hawaii HIDTA was established in 1999 to address the illicit drug trafficking threat confronting the state. Hawaii is located approximately 2,500 miles from the West Coast of the United States and comprises the eight main islands1 and a 1,500-mile chain of islets that span more than 6,400 square miles in the north central Pacific Ocean. (See Figure 1.) It is situated between the continental United States and Pacific countries of Oceania.2 Regionally, Hawaii is a gateway to Pacific Rim3 countries and Asia. International airports and maritime ports as well as a developed transportation infrastructure facilitate not only the efficient flow of legitimate commerce but also the transshipment and distribution of illicit drugs and drug proceeds into and through the state. The diverse, largely transient (tourist) population in the HIDTA region provides a large customer base and a heightened degree of anonymity for various drug traffickers and criminal groups operating in the state.

The state of Hawaii has a total population of more than 1.2 million; approximately 70 percent of the population resides in the city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Honolulu is Hawaii's principal port of entry (POE) for travelers, mail, and cargo; the movement of passengers and commodities is facilitated by an international airport, international postal facility, and two of the state's busiest commercial harbors. Consequently, Honolulu is the primary transshipment point for drugs and drug proceeds to, through, and from the state. Much of what transpires in terms of drug trafficking and abuse in Honolulu drives the drug situation on each of the other populated islands of the state.


1. The eight main islands are Hawaii (the Big Island), Kahoolawe, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, Niihau, and Oahu.
2. Oceania, with an estimated population of 3.1 million, is a region consisting of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, as well as the thousands of coral atolls and volcanic islands in the South Pacific Ocean.
3. The Pacific Rim is a political and economic term used to designate the countries at the edges of the Pacific Ocean and the various island nations within the region (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam).

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