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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Kahalu'u seeks 'ice' clampdown

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

KAHALU'U — Some 250 residents turned out last night to vent their frustration over "ice" use in the community and to begin a search for solutions to the problem.

The number of people attending the meeting underscored the concern in this small, rural community that has witnessed a steady increase in the use of ice, or crystal methamphetamine, among its residents, said Bob Nakata, who heads KEY Project, one of sponsors of the meeting.

"The community is finally acknowledging the depth and breadth of this problem," Nakata said. "They are coming out of denial."

"Breaking the Ice" was the second in a series of meetings called to find solutions and comfort families that know the shame and isolation suffered when a member is an ice user.

Another meeting is set for 7 p.m. May 8 at the KEY Project center in Kahalu'u.

Ed Kubo, U.S. attorney for Hawai'i, addressed the community and said he was impressed with the number of people who attended and were willing to work together to solve the problem. Kubo said his office will be a sounding board for the community.

He told the people that to start out, they must report all drug activities to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and that he would work with the DEA and talk to police to step up enforcement.

"I promise you will see the faces of law enforcement agents out here," Kubo said.

People at the meeting spoke about their problems.

Parents talked about being powerless when their children became users at age 15. Treatment in Hawai'i for young teens is practically nonexistent, some said.

One woman said she took her daughter to the Mainland to attend a treatment center and school where the girl has made dramatic improvement. Hawai'i should offer that service, she said, and public schools shouldn't be burdened with educating drug users.

Sharon Muraco, of Sunset Beach, said she couldn't afford that kind of treatment that runs $5,000 to $6,000 a month. Muraco said she had to have her son arrested several times before he finally was forced into a four-month treatment, but she wondered what will happen after he gets out.

"There's no follow-up. Nothing," she said.

Keith Ryder, a pastor, said residents can start confronting the problem by holding up signs along Kamehameha Highway with the message: "Zero Tolerance."

Kahalu'u residents said they knew where dealers are selling drugs and who the users are. They talked about youngsters hanging out at all hours of the night and police not enforcing curfew laws.

Nikki Foster, 19, of Kahalu'u, said she would "kill" her younger siblings if they used drugs but the problem is so pervasive that it's difficult to avoid.

"It's not just the kids that are using," Foster said. "It's the aunties and uncles; the older people."

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com. or 234-5266.

Correction: Ed Kubo is U.S. attorney for Hawai'i. An incorrect title was given in a previous version of this story.