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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, August 11, 2001

20 arrested after investigation of alleged drug ring

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Twenty people were arrested on federal drug indictments and more arrests are expected as the Honolulu police and a task force of federal agencies wrapped up the first phase of an investigation of a suspected Chinatown crystal methamphetamine distribution gang.

The group is alleged to have used a Chinatown business, a beauty salon called Shear Touch at 1149 Bethel St., as a front for the drug distribution.

The drugs allegedly were sold through Shear Touch directly to customers and also sold to dealers who distributed the drugs throughout Honolulu, said Elliot Enoki, acting U.S. attorney for Hawai'i.

The ring is thought to have operated for at least three years and to have made deals of up to $10,000 routinely in their day-to-day business, said Enoki.

"I think this case illustrates that there is no doubt as to the seriousness of ice traffic in Hawai'i," Enoki said.

Enoki announced the indictments during a press conference yesterday, surrounded by representatives from the police department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. Those agencies worked together during the seven-month investigation.

Colleen Nakamoto, 42, who managed Shear Touch, and her associate, Darryl Yonesaki, 55, are alleged in the indictment to have obtained the drugs, distributed them to dealers and to customers, and to have collected the money and kept the books for the organization based out of Shear Touch.

Michael Inouye, 52, is accused of working for Nakamoto and Yonesaki at Shear Touch, answering the phone, admitting customers and making drug pickups and deliveries.

Amy Wong, 23, and Hong Tran, 37, also named in a second indictment, were the suspected drug suppliers for Shear Touch, Enoki said.

Wong supplied Tran, according to the indictment. Wong also worked with My Lee, 49, another supplier, the charges said.

Tran also worked with another supplier at his level, Que Nguyen, 35, according to the indictment.

Twenty-two other alleged dealers were listed in the indictments.

The indictments were handed down by a federal grand jury Wednesday and kept secret until most of those indicted could be arrested, Enoki said.

The drug group was targeted by Honolulu Police Department officers who were working the Chinatown Weed and Seed program, Enoki said. The police then alerted federal authorities.

The popularity of methamphetamine in Hawai'i has made use of the drug a major problem in the state, contributing to violent crime and theft, the law enforcement officials said.

Thomas Kelly, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Honolulu District Office of the DEA, said Honolulu's problems rival or exceed those of most Mainland cities.

Kelly and Daniel Dzwilewski, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, said federal and local law enforcement agencies have worked together well to face the problem.