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Gangs will lose, HPD chief vows


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POSTED: Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa said dedicating a substantial number of police officers to curb the recent Chinatown gang violence and drug trafficking is working.

“;They're backing off,”; he told reporters at a news conference yesterday when asked about a recent stabbing and fatal shooting less than a week apart.

Drugs and the fight for turf have been fueling the recent problems in Chinatown, Correa said.

He pinpointed a gang originating in San Francisco, which came to Hawaii about 10 years ago, made up of between 10 and 20 individuals — some coming in from San Francisco and others living in Honolulu — as having triggered the recent violence.

Correa said police moved the gang out of Honolulu, but it has returned.

“;For years we tried to put a lid on it,”; he said.

Correa stopped short of connecting the two crimes, saying he did not want to taint the investigation.

However, the 32-year-old stabbing victim, Antonius Toloai, and Iosefa Meafua Pasene, one of two suspects in the March 28 shooting death of Joseph Peneueta, were both arrested on drug charges the day before the slaying.

Toloai is also a friend of murder suspect Zorro Ramon Rye, according to Rye's attorney, Myles Breiner.

Rye and Pasene are both from San Francisco.

Peneueta was gunned down by two men, armed with an assault rifle and shotgun, at the corner of North Pauahi and River streets, witnesses told police.

A large group of men approached Toloai and several of his friends Friday, and one of them reportedly punched and kicked Toloai and a woman. Toloai was stabbed numerous times.

Correa said the Honolulu Police Department has assigned patrol, undercover, vice, Special Services Division and Crime Reduction Unit officers from various districts to refocus their efforts to Chinatown.

“;We'll do whatever's necessary to make Chinatown safe,”; he pledged.

The drugs, primarily cocaine and some Ecstasy, are smuggled in from Mexico and the West Coast, Correa said.

The Chinatown Business and Community Association has called for the chief and the mayor to meet the group's members today to discuss what his plan of action is to combat the violence in the area.