NUKOLII — Don’t expect a federal Drug Enforcement Administration presence on the island to immediately work to stem the flow of illegal drugs to and around the island, a DEA agent said.
While federal, state and county elected officials are working hard to get full-time DEA agents assigned to work on Kauai’s drug problems, their presence alone won’t be a panacea, said Christopher G. Tolley, demand reduction coordinator and public information officer for the U.S. Department of Justice DEA office in Honolulu.
“By no means can we come in here and cure things for you,” he said at the annual meeting of the Hawaii State Association of Counties at the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort here Tuesday morning.
A DEA presence on the island would not replace county and state law enforcement, but rather work with local authorities to attack drug dealers using federal laws which are stricter than state or county ordinances, he said.
“The drug dealers really don’t fear being arrested” under lax state or county laws, but are afraid of federal laws with mandatory jail time and established minimum sentences, said Tolley.
“They want to establish a presence here,” he said of the DEA and elected officials.
Kauai and the other counties already have deputized DEA Drug agents fighting the war on drugs, he added.
Working together, they try to bring to justice “the big guys,” or those distributors selling drugs to dealers, he said.
Where his role in demand reduction is concerned, Tolley goes into the schools and educates young ones in his non-enforcement role.
“We try to stop drug use before it happens,” he said.