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Soong: ‘Ice’ puts a chill on Kaua’i

One of several drugs driving crimeBY DENNIS WILKEN

TGI Staff Writer

Kaua’i County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Soong believes

that behind almost all of the crime on Kaua’i, there is one overriding

motive.

Drugs.

Soong stresses that point in his section of the county’s

annual 1998-99 report and in conversations.

“Drug prosecutions continue to

be a major focus of the (prosecutor’s) office,” which recognizes that “most of

the crime occurring on the island of Kaua’i is drug-related. Whether the crime

is a property crime, or a crime against another person, they often stem from

drug abuse,” Soong stated in the report.

“I think the most important thing

is that methamphetamine and other drugs probably are the driving force behind

all of our cases. We see it as the reason for thefts, robberies, burglaries,

family abuse,” Soong reiterated Thursday. “From a practical experience, I’ve

seen it destroy families, seen people lose their livelihoods, their homes,

everything.”

Because of that, Soong has made a priority of prosecuting drug

offenders during his first four years in office.

In 1995-96, before he took

over Kauai’s prosecutorial reins, there were 66 drug charges. That number has

grown steadily since Soong became prosecuting attorney: 183 in 1996-97, 216 in

1997-98 and 232 in 1988-99.

Soong said the local drug trade, if not the

Cosa Nostra, is at least loosely organized.

“I think the point is, it’s

usually tied to Honolulu or somewhere else off-island” where drugs are

manufactured, he said.

Soong said he and his deputies see some of the same

offenders over and over.

Statistics recently released by the Kaua’i Police

vice unit back up Soong’s contention that methamphetamine is a growing

problem.

“The amount of ice (methamphetamine) seized is 25 times the amount

of cocaine seized in the past year,” Soong said, referring to 628 grams of meth

compared to 25.7 grams of cocaine and 22.7 grams of heroin last

year.

“That’s not even an ounce of cocaine. I think the cocaine users are

probably going over” to meth, Soong said.

Police investigated 299

drug-related cases in 1996.

That number jumped to 444 by 1998.

In

1996, police carried out 46 search warrants in connection with drug-related

crime; 97 warrants were executed two years later.

State experts estimate

there are at least 35,000 hardcore methamphetamine users in Hawai’i.

According to Soong, a fair percentage of them are living — and getting

high on ice — on Kaua’i.

Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at

245-3681 (ext. 252) and dwilken@pulitzer.net

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