Heroin use sky­rock­ets on Kauai af­ter pre­scrip­tion crack­down

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - HAWAII REPORT -

Kauai po­lice have seen an in­crease in the use of black tar heroin over the last two years.

The Kauai Po­lice Depart­ment seized less than a gram of black tar heroin in 2015, but in 2017 the depart­ment seized 526 grams, the Gar­den Is­land re­ported Sun­day.

The depart­ment has al­ready amassed

80.8 grams this year, said Bryson Ponce, the Kauai Po­lice Depart­ment’s In­ves­tiga­tive Ser­vices Bureau as­sis­tant chief.

Ponce said the in­crease is a se­ri­ous con­cern be­cause heroin use is linked to vi­o­lent crime.

“In ad­di­tion to these drugs be­ing shipped into Hawaii via mail ser­vices, they are also be­ing trans­mit­ted via the dark web on the in­ter­net. Peo­ple are now us­ing crypto-cur­rency to pur­chase these dan­ger­ous drugs,” Ponce said.

Ponce said drug traf­fick­ers have turned to street drugs since it be­came more dif­fi­cult to ob­tain large amounts of pre­scrip­tion drugs.

“With this in­flux of il­licit street drugs, KPD has be­come more ag­gres­sive in en­force­ment ef­forts,” Ponce said. “We con­tinue to fo­cus on quickly iden­ti­fy­ing deal­ers and dis­rupt­ing the flow of these drugs into Kauai.”

Kauai Prose­cut­ing At­tor­ney Justin Kol­lar said 10 years ago he had one deputy pros­e­cu­tor han­dle all the drug cases in ad­di­tion to other cases. But now, he said, they have three deputies han­dling drug cases full time.

“Those cases al­most all in­volve opi­oids and/or metham­phetamine,” Kol­lar said. “Street drugs are ex­tremely dan­ger­ous be­cause they are usu­ally adul­ter­ated with other sub­stance like fen­tanyl or other ex­tremely po­tent syn­thetic opi­oids,” Kol­lar said.

The prob­lem with opi­oids, he said, is that they do not dis­crim­i­nate.

“Ev­ery­one on Kauai knows or is re­lated to some­one strug­gling with ad­dic­tion, whether or not they know it,” Kol­lar said.

Aaron Hoff, founder of the Keala Foun­da­tion, said the is­land’s Ado­les­cent Treat­ment and Heal­ing Cen­ter is sched­uled to open in late Novem­ber.

It will be the first on-is­land treat­ment fa­cil­ity.

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