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Methamphetamine and marijuana abuse are the most critical drug concerns in Hawaii. High levels of methamphetamine abuse severely strain the resources of public health departments, treatment centers, and social services agencies in the state. Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) reveal that methamphetamines/amphetamines were identified more often than any other drug, including alcohol, as the primary substance of abuse for treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities in Hawaii from 2004 through 2008 (the latest year for which data are available). (See Table 1.) Methamphetamine-related domestic violence, child abuse, and child neglect place a burden on local foster care systems and social services. For example, in February 2010, a Honolulu man was sentenced to life in a state prison for the murder of a 23-month-old toddler he was supposedly baby-sitting. While high on methamphetamine in January 2008, the man threw the toddler off a pedestrian overpass to his death on the H-1 Freeway. During the trial, the toddler's mother testified that she was gambling in Chinatown, smoking methamphetamine, and shoplifting at the Ala Moana Center on the day her child was killed. The number of treatment admissions for marijuana/hashish abuse is also very high--second only to the number of admissions for methamphetamine/amphetamine abuse. It is especially important to note that 77 percent of the marijuana/hashish admissions were for adolescents and young adults. Cocaine, heroin, CPDs, and other drugs are also abused throughout Hawaii, but to a lesser extent.

Table 1. Drug-Related Treatment Admissions to Publicly Funded Facilities in Hawaii, 2004-2008

Drug Type 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Methamphetamine/amphetamines 2,381 2,624 2,181 2,184 1,807
Marijuana/hashish 1,215 1,577 1,618 1,783 1,671
Cocaine 279 222 302 245 234
Heroin 156 162 160 148 141
Other opiates 112 155 134 173 179

Source: Treatment Episode Data Set.

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Illicit Finance

Mexican and Asian DTOs are law enforcement's leading concern with respect to drug money laundering in the HIDTA region. These groups primarily employ couriers aboard commercial flights and wire transfers to move money from Hawaii to drug source areas. Mexican DTOs send drug proceeds primarily by package delivery services, U.S. mail, air couriers, or maritime freight from locations throughout Hawaii either directly to Mexico or through major consolidation sites on the U.S. mainland--Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas--en route to Mexico. Asian DTOs often send bulk drug proceeds generated in Hawaii to their home countries, where the money is typically used to purchase business or real property. Law enforcement reporting indicates that a number of Asian DTOs also launder drug proceeds through the purchase of expensive residential real estate in Hawaii.

Traffickers, particularly Asian criminal groups, also launder money through informal value transfer systems (IVTSs)i such as hawala, hundi, and fei ch'ien. Many of these IVTSs are culturally biased and, because of their clandestine nature, are difficult to monitor. Illicit money transfers made through these underground systems are easily concealed in the high volume of legal transfers made within the systems.


i. An informal value transfer system is any network or mechanism that can be used to transfer funds or value from place to place without leaving a formal paper trail of the entire transaction or going through regulated financial institutions.

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