United States Sen. Daniel Kahikina Akaka, D-Hawai‘i, asked the nominee for a federal anti-narcotics office what he would do to stop the flow of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, into Hawai‘i.
“We know where the narcotics are coming from, we know precisely where they are going, and we know how the drugs are being transported,” said Akaka in a press release.
“Will you commit to reporting back to me and the committee about how we can do a better job of shutting down the flow of meth to Hawai‘i?” Akaka asked Uttam Dhillon, nominee to be director of the Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement, a new position in the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Akaka is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and posed the question to Dhillon, and asked the questions during that committee hearing recently.
Dhillon responded that there is a need to focus resources to properly address the increased ice trafficking into Hawai‘i.
He told Akaka that he is committed to reporting back to the committee members about what the DHS can do to reduce the flow of ice into and around Hawai‘i.
Hawai‘i has the highest methamphetamine-usage rate in the nation.
According to local law-enforcement authorities, 90 percent of the ice seized in Hawai‘i is transported into the state through couriers on commercial flights that originate on the West Coast, or through package-delivery services.
During the questioning, Dhillon told Akaka he is not sure what is being done at the Honolulu International Airport to curb drug trafficking.
“We may need to look at how many drug-sniffing dogs there are. I don’t know the answer to that,” said Dhillon.
“It’s something we’ll have to look into.”
“I’d like to ask you to come to Hawai‘i and look at our airport and see for yourself to look at the problem,” said Akaka.
“We’re looking for a way to turn this around. Your presence there will help.
“Typically, in Hawai‘i, the agencies talk to each other, and they make a huge difference in the results they do. I hope you can find time to come to Hawai‘i,” Akaka added.
For over a decade, Akaka has sponsored or cosponsored legislation to combat the ice epidemic.
During his years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Akaka visited the focal point of illicit-drug production and trade, known as the Golden Triangle, a relatively-lawless territory where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet.
Initially, ice was brought into Hawai‘i by organized criminal groups from Asia. Law-enforcement officers succeeded in disrupting their activities.
Unfortunately, ice made a comeback through organized criminal organizations from Mexico, he observed.
The Department of Homeland Security employs many of the men and women who are on the front line against narcotics traffickers.
If Dhillon is confirmed as the director of the Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement, he will be tasked with overseeing all counter narcotic-related issues.
“I am hopeful that with this new position we will see some improvement in our ability to respond to this problem,” said Akaka.