Crackdown in Chinatown

Dolores Mollring
Dolores Mollring
Young Sok Little
Young Sok Little
Cecilia Chang
Cecilia Chang

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

CHINATOWN (KHNL) - It's a tough crackdown on Chinatown drug dealers, but it may also make things tough for nearby businesses.

"Beware, because the penalties are quick and severe," Honolulu Police Sergeant Larry Santos said.

It's supposed to curb drug dealing in Chinatown, but a pilot program underway could also cut into profits for island shops and stores.

The project started Thursday. It changed this busy drug-dealing street in chinatown to a no-parking, no stopping and no loading area.

It's no secret Chinatown is notorious for drug dealers. Police have been trying for a long time to clean up the streets in this historic area.

Their latest effort is aimed to drive away drug dealers from Pauahi Street.

"The police department can only do so much and that's why we have our citizens patrol here. there's so many officers, but more citizens who can be our eyes and ears and giving 911 a call when they see this drug dealing that's when we can combat this problem," Sergeant Santos said.

A problem police say may not be stopped, but at least curbed for the sake of businesses and residents.

"This is my neighborhood, I live here, I work here, I play here, I want to keep it safe for myself, my daughter and her son, three generations, this is where we live, this is our neighborhood and we care," Chinatown resident Dolores Mollring said.

But some business owners fear they may suffer without any parking near their stores.

"So, one thing about no traffic, there's no fighting, no drunk people, really clean, it's nice, but some people, they try to buy sometimes they cannot park here, so that's the worst of it," Business owner Young Sok Little said.

Although it's still too early to see the effects it will have, some have already seen signs of it working.

"So far, we're told it's much clearer here, that the drug dealers are not here, that the drug dealers have been here for more than 30 years have gone and that the neighborhood is finally having a chance to breathe," Honolulu Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cecilia Chang said.

A chance for a better place to live.

Police say if this pilot project is successful, they may do this in other areas here and elsewhere on the island.