Next week, the administration of Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle will hold its first “ice summit” to develop an agenda to address the state’s epidemic of crystal methamphenamine, or ice, the Honolulu Star Bulletin reports. “This is biggest drug problem we’ve seen in the history of our state,” said U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo. “And we’re just beginning to realize the potential economic damages it can create.”
The problem is illustrated by the case of Michael Schulze, 36, who was sentenced last week to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking. Authorities say he accumulated $1.3 million in 15 bank accounts. The newspaper says that Schulze owned properties in Nevada, two cabin cruisers, two GMC Suburbans, a Yamaha WaveRunner, three pickup trucks and a bulldozer. The Las Vegas resident recently gave his fiancee a $10,000 diamond ring and a black 2001 BMW sedan, prosecutors said. They said that since 1997, Schulze’s organization imported 1,000 pounds of crystal methamphetamine to Hawaii with a street value of $25 million.
The Star Bulletin says that if ice were a legitimate business, it would rank among Hawaii’s largest corporations. Conservative estimates place the number of hard-core ice addicts in Hawaii at about 8,100; the typical addict smokes between $50 and $170 a day of ice. That means that local crystal meth addicts use about $150 million a year, roughly equivalent to the annual sales of Maui Land & Pineapple Co. or St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii. Other estimates put the number of hard-core users in the islands at 30,000.