Director’s Message, August 2023

Our thoughts, support and prayers for the Lahaina Maui fire victims, family, and friends.   We commend our brave first responders and helpers who are managing the pain of this crisis.

Aloha.  This message marks a beginning of a new era for the Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Era.  By virtue of this website, we will be providing all aspects of drug abuse in Hawaii.    Let’s begin:

The Hawaii HIDTA Landscape

Hawaii HIDTA serves the State of Hawaii and Hawaii’s four municipalities: The City and County of Honolulu (Island of Oahu), Maui County (the Islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai), Hawaii County (Island of Hawaii), and Kauai County (Island of Kauai). The Hawaii State Capitol is located on Oahu (City and County of Honolulu).  Oahu is the state’s most populated island with one million residents.

Hawaii’s economy is tourist-based, and 1,674,208 visitors arrived in Hawaii in 2022.   All five U.S. military service branches are situated in Hawaii: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and the U.S. Coast Guard.  The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and JIATF West Headquarters are located on Oahu.  The U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range is located at Barking Sands, Kauai.

Hawaii is isolated in the Pacific Ocean and consists of 4,507 square miles of landmass.  Hawaii is  2,400 miles away from the U.S. mainland, 4,000 miles from Japan and 4,660 miles from North Korea.

Hawaii’s Drug Threat

The most abusive drug in Hawaii is methamphetamine and the region is experiencing an overlapping rise in fentanyl abuse.   Both meth and fentanyl are recognized as Hawaii’s greatest and deadliest drug threats by law enforcement and public health.

The impact of drug abuse and addiction in Hawaii is evident with increased homelessness, violent crime and gun violence associated to the influence of drugs; and an overall public perception that drugs have diminished Hawaii’s quality of life. More than any other drug, methamphetamine depletes the resources of Hawaii’s law enforcement agencies, public health and social services, emergency medical departments, harm reduction providers, etc.

The rate of drug-related deaths in Hawaii is increasing—there were 320 drug deaths in 2022, as compared to 305 in 2021, and 266 in 2020.  The drug most attributed to the 320 drug deaths in 2022 was methamphetamine (210 deaths).

Our Mission

Simply put, we invest in federal, state, and local drug interdiction teams (known as task forces) who target, arrest, convict and imprison drug traffickers and dealers in Hawaii, and  our thirst doesn’t end there.   We strip the assets from these drug trafficking enterprises and trace their criminal activity to national and international sources.

We reach out to the community to prevent drug abuse, in particular our Hawaii keiki (children), with an emphasis on building wellness through an evidence-based platform called Prevention Plus Wellness.    We educate our people on the addictiveness and danger of drugs, in particular methamphetamine and fentanyl.

Gary Yabuta
Executive Director
Hawaii HIDTA