Kalihi Drug Suspects Face Minimum of 1 Year in Jail

KALIHI (KHNL) -- Fifteen federal drug suspects each face a mandatory minimum of one year in jail if convicted of dealing crystal methamphetamine near children.

KHNL News 8 first told you about the drug sweep in Kalihi Tuesday.

Men and women, ranging in age from 22 to 49, are accused of selling crystal meth near schools and playgrounds.

"From time to time, we are reminded that we are a major city," Chief Boisse Correa, Honolulu Police Department, said.  "And as a major city, we have these problems that includes crystal methamphetamine."

As KHNL News 8 reported earlier, addicts would flock to the Olomea Street bridge, and adjacent Kohou and Kokea streets, to get their fix.  So police sent in undercover officers to make drug buys.

"It was very hard because since we started the operation, we would still get community complaints," Maj. Kurt Kendro, Honolulu Police Department, said.  "And many times, the community doesn't know what we're doing because we're doing plain-clothes operations."

Investigators say the five-month effort identified 18 street dealers along Kapalama Canal, and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Fifteen of them face federal prosecution because their sales allegedly took place within 1,000 feet of Likelike Elementary, Kaiulani Elementary, Honolulu Community College, or Mokauea playground.

"Any person who deals in drugs is disregarding the safety and the lives of others," Ed Kubo, U.S. Attorney, said.

"Through the patience of the community and the efforts of the Crime Reduction Unit officers, the patrol officers, we were able to come about with these arrests," Kendro said.  "And I think it was a very successful operation."

The suspects' bail hearings are scheduled for Thursday and Friday.