Friday, December 14, 2001

Airport security nabs alleged
crystal meth smuggler

By Rod Antone

State deputy sheriffs and Honolulu Airport security caught a man allegedly trying to smuggle $130,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine into the islands this week.

Wayne Halemano, a Texas resident who state narcotics officials said is a former Hawaii resident, was trying to catch a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Hilo on Tuesday when airport security pulled him aside for a random check.

Narcotics officials said that while airport security scanned Halemano with a handheld metal detector, they noticed a "hard object" on his stomach. When security officials asked what the bulge was, Halemano did not answer, officials said.

Security persisted, and Halemano said he would tell them but wanted to do it "in private." Security took Halemano into an office where he took off his shirt.

According to a federal court affidavit, Halemano had two plastic bags wrapped around his body with masking tape. Federal prosecutors charged Halemano on Wednesday with drug possession with the intent to distribute.

"Definitely a great job by Wackenhut (security) and state sheriffs for catching him," said state Narcotics Enforcement Division Administrator Keith Kamita, noting that Halemano had made it through airport security in Dallas and Los Angeles before being caught in Honolulu.

"Perhaps he wasn't pulled aside for a random check ... or our people may be doing a better job at individual screening."

Last month, airport security also arrested a 24-year-old Maui man who allegedly stuffed about $5,500 worth of cocaine down his pants. Since Oct. 29, Honolulu Airport security has made 12 drug-related busts.

Narcotics officials said that prior to heightened airport security measures started after Sept. 11, there was an average of two to three drug busts per month at airport security checkpoints.

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