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15 people arrested in McCully drug investigation

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Following a three-month narcotics investigation, Honolulu police arrested 15 people in McCully this week on drug charges.

Narcotics/Vice and East Honolulu officers conducted the investigation after receiving numerous complaints about illegal activity from the community, police said.

The officers focused on drug dealing around Stadium Park, McCully Library, Ala Wai Promenade, and Ala Wai Community Park between August and October, police said.

Fifteen of the suspects have been charged with drug warrants and 13 of them bailed out today. Eight are convicted felons. Five other people were arrested in the area on unrelated warrants. 

Police are still looking for five people wanted in connection with the drug investigation.

The 15 who were charged with drug warrants are: Patrick Soalo, Allyson Urusua, Reynold Oto, Peter Amerino, Keahi Acasia, Abigail Evangelista, Darryl Yagi, Makanamaikalani Kalima, Harry Mau, Georgette Preston, Mago Keleise, Rudy Vinigas, Patrick Amerino, Shari Nagasawa, and Joann Speakes. 

Five others were arrested on unrelated warrants and bailed out: Gayle Yee, Joe Taglies, Tracy Kapahu, Alton Cayetano, and Sara Saldebar.

Honolulu Police Maj. Evan Ching, commander of the East Honolulu district, said police are still looking for five suspects in connection with the drug investigation.

"The HPD believes that these arrests will help the community to enjoy their parks and feel safe," he said.

Ron Lockwood, chairman of the McCully/Moiliili Neighborhood Board, said residents were complaining about the drug activity around the McCully Library. People staying on the sidewalk were offering middle and high school students drugs, mothers were afraid to bring their preschoolers to the library because of the people, and the sidewalks were difficult to walk along because of the tents.

He said the homeless population near the library had been there for about two years but suddenly grew when the city outlawed tents at public parks in April.

He’s been getting 300 complaints a week by phone or e-mail from residents about the drug activity among in the area. Earlier this month, 400 people signed a petition in two hours to do something about the homeless around McCully Library, he said. Usually about 40 people stay on the sidewalk, but after the arrests, there was no one on the sidewalk about 8 p.m. today, Lockwood said, adding "I love it."

Rep. Scott Saiki, who represents the area, said Institute for Human Services did a profile of the sidewalk dwellers and found more than half had drug problems. He said in July the community held the largest town meeting he’s ever seen in the neighborhood since being elected in 1995 just to talk about the homeless problem. 

"Residents were witnessing transactions," he said. "Some felt intimidated. It was to the point where they didn’t want their children in the park. It was a growing problem."

"I’m certain that residents will be very relieved to learn about what’s happened because it’s basically was a personal safety issue for a lot of residents in the area," he said. "This makes a total difference for the community."

 

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