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As fentanyl cases continue to climb, officials warn of its growing threat to the community

fentanyl opioid pills
U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence at a trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP, File)

It was a year ago this month that a 14 year old girl on the Big Island died after exposure to fentanyl.

Law enforcement has seen the number of fentanyl cases grow in the islands over the past five years.

This morning, The Conversation talked to Gary Yabuta, who is the executive director of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area's program.

HIDT's office opened in 1999, thanks to a federal grant obtained by our current City Prosecutor Steve Alm and the late Senator Dan Inouye. The program was organized to deal with our methamphetamine problem, since Hawaiʻi is considered a high intensity drug trafficked area. It is one of 33 hot spots across the country.

Yabuta says our communities need to know about this new growing threat of fentanyl in our community.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Nov. 17, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at
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