Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
Illicit drug production in the Hawaii HIDTA region entails primarily cannabis cultivation, limited methamphetamine production, and limited crack cocaine conversion.
Cannabis is extensively cultivated in Hawaii at both outdoor and indoor locations. In fact, the state consistently ranks among the top four states for the total number of cannabis plants eradicated each year. (See Table 1.) However, despite the large number of cannabis plots eradicated each year in the state, sustained law enforcement pressure and interdiction efforts have resulted in a decrease in outdoor cannabis cultivation in Hawaii since 2001. (See Table 2.) Law enforcement reporting indicates that most outdoor cannabis cultivation occurs on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Kaua'i, and O'ahu, particularly on State Division of Land and Natural Resources lands in Hawaii and Maui Counties. Outdoor cultivation operations are conducted primarily by local Asian and Polynesian DTOs as well as some Caucasian groups, including those that have relocated to Hawaii from the U.S. mainland.
Table 1. Top Five States for Cannabis Plants Eradicated by Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, 2002-2006
Table 2. Outdoor Cannabis Grow Sites Seized and Plants Eradicated in Hawaii, 2001-2006
Indoor cannabis cultivation in Hawaii occurs less frequently than outdoor cultivation; however, the number of indoor grow sites in the state appears to be increasing, quite likely a result of increased law enforcement pressure on outdoor growers (particularly through the use of aerial surveillance). The number of plants eradicated from indoor grow operations has increased steadily since 2001 and jumped sharply from 3,950 plants in 2005 to 12,358 plants in 2006. (See Table 3.) This sharp increase is attributable to increased law enforcement surveillance efforts, particularly at sites where aerial surveillance had detected prior outdoor cultivation operations; some indoor grow sites were located in residences or outbuildings on land formerly used for outdoor cannabis cultivation. Local Hawaiians, Caucasian independents, and Asian organizations operate most indoor grow sites in Hawaii.
Number of Cannabis Plants Eradicated From Indoor Grow Sites in Hawaii,
Methamphetamine production occurs sporadically and currently does not pose a significant threat; the laboratories seized are typically conversion laboratories used by local distributors to convert imported powder methamphetamine into ice methamphetamine or to "clean up" ice methamphetamine that is of poor quality. Law enforcement reporting indicates that Asian, Polynesian, and local DTOs in Hawaii are responsible for most of the methamphetamine production and ice conversion in the state. Additionally, the number of methamphetamine laboratories seized in Hawaii is low and decreasing. (See Table 4.)
Table 4. Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures in Hawaii, by County, 2002-2006
Powder cocaine is converted to crack cocaine on a limited basis in the Hawaii HIDTA region. Most is converted at or near distribution sites on an as-needed basis, typically in ounce quantities, by local distributors who, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), include African American, Mexican, and Samoan traffickers.