Saturday, July 10, 1999

Waipahu hears pitch for
anti-drug program

By Harold Morse


Dealers and buyers came from all over Oahu to the Mayor Wright Housing area for drugs.

But U.S. Attorney Steven Alm says now there have been no recent arrests for drug-dealing around Mayor Wright Housing because no more drug dealers are operating there.

"They don't even come from the site," Alm added.

Alm and other Weed & Seed officials used the Kalihi-Palama/Chinatown success story to try to convince about 300 residents at a Waipahu Intermediate School meeting Thursday night to organize a similar effort.

A video on how undercover police officers delivered a knockout blow to Pua Lane and Robello Lane drug traffic drove the point home; these officers' actions also drove more than 100 drug dealers behind bars, with prosecution in federal court resulting in convictions carrying stiff mainland prison terms.

Whether Weed & Seed comes to Waipahu depends on whether the community gets fired up to convince the federal-state-city steering committee it wants it.

Alm gave the Waipahu residents a summary of what's happened in the past 18 months in Kalihi-Palama and Chinatown.

"Drug dealing was the biggest problem," with an open drug market running full blast in the community for years, Alm said. "Those guys felt like they owned it."

Weeding out crime through law-enforcement and citizen participation in community policing is the key to the first phase followed by the second phase of prevention, intervention and treatment, and neighborhood restoration, he said.

"All of the drug dealers that get picked up are prosecuted in federal courts." Subsequently locking them up on the mainland definitely removes them and their activities from the community, he said.

Maile Kanemaru, Weed & Seed coordinator, said: "If we come to Waipahu, the community will decide what the priority is."

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