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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:24 a.m., Friday, January 11, 2002

18-year-old suspected as ecstasy ringleader

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

State drug enforcement officials recently cracked an ecstasy distribution ring that surprised them because the alleged ring-leader was only 18.

Four people, including a 15-year-old boy, were arrested Dec. 14 and 15 for allegedly selling 200 to 500 tablets of ecstasy a week, said Ed Howard, supervising investigator for the narcotics enforcement division of the state Department of Public Safety.

All four were released pending further investigation. The case will likely go before an O'ahu grand jury later this year.

"We are still looking at other suspects and individuals who are responsible for bringing it into the state," Howard said.

The group had been active throughout O'ahu for at least a year, Howard said.

The accused ringleader was a University of Hawai'i student from Hawai'i Kai.

"It appears from what we know that even though he was 18, he definitely had the connections and had numerous customers," Howard said. "He was a player."

"We would consider these people mid-level dealers," he said. "We know for a fact that the sources above them probably handle thousands of tablets at a time."

The three other individuals were "runners" who helped traffic the drugs, Howard said.

The case first surfaced in November when U.S. Army criminal investigators approached the state about ecstasy problems with soldiers at Schofield Barracks, Howard said.

The designer drug, a fixture at rave dance parties, can cause high blood pressure, increased body temperature and dehydration. It is also being linked to brain damage similar to crystal methamphetamine users, Howard said.