Public should give assistance to anti-drug task force
A Leilehua High School teacher has been charged with distributing crystal meth.
LAW enforcement agencies are pointing to the arrest of a Leilehua High School teacher
as a sign of the effectiveness of a new anti-drug task force. The arrest is an indication that residents are reporting such activities to authorities, and the government is right in encouraging such calls.
The Hawaii Rapid Reduction Drug Task Force obviously used the arrest of special education teacher Lee Anzai to bring public attention to the cooperative effort. The idea of a teacher being accused of selling crystal methamphetamine is alarming, even though he is not accused of selling it on campus or to students or other faculty.
Anzai, 29, is charged with selling nearly a pound of meth to an undercover state deputy sheriff over a period of several weeks during September and October. Anzai told the undercover agent that he began using "ice" eight years ago, when he was catcher for the Hawaii Pacific University baseball team. He is believed to be the first Hawaii public school teacher to be charged with dealing ice.
Authorities said the investigation was initiated by phone calls by community members to the Honolulu Police Department's Narcotics/Vice Division. It was assisted by a person who owed Anzai $3,000 for drugs and apparently introduced the deputy sheriff, nicknamed "Duke," to Anzai.
The task force was created in February to coordinate activities of Honolulu police, the state's Sheriff Division, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
It has survived a report by the inspector general of the Justice Department suggesting that Hawaii receives too much federal anti-meth funding. The report based each state's "significant meth problem" on the number of lab seizures, ignoring the fact that 80 percent of the nation's meth is smuggled into the country, mostly from Mexico.
In its first eight months, the task force has made 30 federal drug-related arrests, seizing 35 pounds of ice, five pounds of cocaine, 11 firearms, five drug-related vehicles and $710,000 in cash. Those are impressive numbers and indicate that meth remains a serious problem in Hawaii.
U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said the task force's mission is to "quickly and aggressively investigate and arrest in a mid- to low-level neighborhood drug dealers in hopes of working our way into the prosecution of drug organizations above them."
Tony Williams, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA in Honolulu, says the Anzai arrest shows that residents' "calls and complaints are not falling on deaf ears and that they do matter." The number of the HPD's Narcotics/Vice Division is 529-3101.