Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Increased airport
security measures result
in more drug arrests

State narcotics agents nab a Maui
suspect using a random check

By Rod Antone

State narcotics agents say increased security at Honolulu Airport has more than doubled the amount of drug arrests that are usually made at security checkpoints.

Since Oct. 29, drug-related checkpoint arrests have risen to eight arrests in the last two weeks from two or three per month.

"That's a big increase," said state Narcotics Enforcement Division Administrator Keith Kamita. "These random searches do work."

Narcotics agents made their latest arrest this past weekend after a 24-year-old Maui man was caught allegedly with two ounces of cocaine worth about $5,500 stuffed inside his pants.

The suspect, identified as Justin Lawrence of Lahaina, was catching a 7:30 p.m. flight to Maui on Saturday.

"He went to the security checkpoint and he passed, but when he got to the gate he was chosen for a random check," said Kamita.

For whatever reason, the hand-held metal detector or "wand" went off while checking Lawrence and he was asked to submit to a pat down by security.

"They felt a bulge by his backside," said Kamita. "When they questioned what it was, he started to pull away."

Narcotics agents said Lawrence was immediately surrounded by security and members of the Hawaii National Guard.

Lawrence finally removed the bag, and a field test confirmed it was cocaine, Kamita said.

Lawrence has since been charged with the promotion of a dangerous drug and is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

"If he had not been selected for a random check he would have been on the plane," said Kamita. "They're catching a lot of things now."

Kamita said of the other seven drug arrests, five involved marijuana and two involved crystal methamphe- tamine.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin