PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (March 1, 2011) - Commander Navy Region Hawaii (CNRH) Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is currently investigating allegations of possession of illegal synthetic drugs by Sailors of one Hawaii-based ship and two shore-based commands.

According to Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific Rear Adm. Dixon R. Smith, "The Navy recognizes this as a problem society-wide, and now it's hitting home here in Hawaii.”

Smith added, “As these allegations are thoroughly investigated and Sailors are being questioned, it would be inappropriate to discuss specific details of the investigation, but it is evident we need to reiterate the serious consequences of this kind of unacceptable behavior.”

Lt. Matthew Clark is the CNRH security officer in charge of CID, whose mission is to assist Hawaii-based commands with criminal investigation.

“If a command believes that one or more of their Sailors may be using Spice, they will call us for assistance,” said Clark. “We will interview the initial suspect and develop and follow up on all other leads.”

So far, CID has handled five synthetic drug-related investigations involving at least 38 suspected users in Hawaii in the past year alone.

“It’s not difficult to get caught when using Spice,” said Clark. “Basically, once someone is suspected of using Spice, they’ll be interviewed, and more times than not, that will lead to other suspects in the case, and they’ll end up getting caught, too.

“Usually, once the suspect starts talking, the numbers in the case increase dramatically,” said Clark.

Smith wants Sailors to think about the known consequences before they choose to possess or use synthetic drugs or other illegal substances.

"When Sailors get caught using drugs, they don't just throw away their careers, they let down their shipmates, the young Sailors they mentor, their leaders and their families,” he said. “Sailors who take illegal drugs, including synthetic drugs, will be caught. Those who are found guilty will face the consequences of their actions.”

According to a recent message from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West, more than 150 Sailors are currently being processed out of the Navy for Spice use, possession or distribution.

“Overall, the Navy has separated 1,374 Sailors in FY09; 1,308 Sailors in FY10; and 302 Sailors during the first quarter of FY11, for drug abuse,” said West. “These unexpected losses negatively affect our commands' manning levels, which in turn affects the commands' operational and warfighter readiness. The Navy's policy on drug abuse is simple and clear – zero tolerance, and there are no second chances.”

NAVADMIN 108/10 reemphasizes the Navy's policy that prohibits possession of the substances or designated products that contain synthetic cannabinoid compounds, such as Spice, Genie, Blaze, Dream, Ex-ses, Spark, Fusion, Dark Knight, Yucatan Fire, and K2.

Spice is a mixture of natural herbs and synthetic cannabinoids that, when smoked, produce a marijuana-like 'high' that decreases motor skills, impairs coordination and concentration, and effects short-term memory and senses. The effects of these substances are unpredictable when combined with alcohol, and since the chemical blends are continuously manipulated and the strength of the synthetic chemical used is unknown, there is no way to know what the long-term health risks are if used.