Kailua-Kona is a small city on the West Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Through 2012 it was not known to have a chronic or large problem with prostitution, but police say they want to ensure the problem does not grow and they want to send the message that it will be not be tolerated. Since then, more has been learned about ongoing prostitution and sex trafficking in the area. Advocates and police believe that sex trafficking occurs on the Islands and in Kailua, but have made few arrests of pimps or traffickers. They conducted at least five reverse sting operations between 2008-2018, at least one of which was web-based. For example, in June 2018, five men were arrested on suspicion of prostitution during a reverse sting conducted by the Hawaii Police Department’s Vice section. The arrests occurred at a local hotel, when suspects offered money for sex to an undercover female officer. The photos and identifying information for the arrested sex buyers were included in news releases. Following the previous operations, police had released the names and ages of the arrestees, which were printed along with news reports in local media outlets. In fiscal year 2017-18, the prosecutor’s office charged 18 petty misdemeanor violations connected to offering sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee; or paying, agreeing to pay or offering to pay a fee to another to engage in sexual conduct. Twelve were from South Hilo and six from Kona. Nine pleaded guilty or no contest and were fined, and four failed to appear in court and bench warrants were issued. The remainder had other dispositions.
- Hawaii Police Department
- Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “In Brief – Big Island; Seven Arrested on Prostitution Charges,” West Hawaii Today, June 11 2008.
- “Big Island Report; Would-Be ‘Johns’ Arrested,” Hawaii Tribune-Herald, June 13 2008.
- “Prostitution Sting Targets Kailua-Kona,” West Hawaii Today, August 5 2010.
- “Six Charged in Sex Sting,” Hawaii Tribune-Herald, August 5 2010.
- “Prostitution Sting Clarification 08-09-10,” Press Release, Hawaii Police Department, August 9 2010.
- “Five Big Isle Men Arrested, Charged in Prostitution Sting,” West Hawaii Today, January 26 2012.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 5 Suspects,” Hawaii Tribune-Herald, January 27 2012.
- https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/combating-sex-trafficking-coalition-hosting-town-hall-meetings-to-shine-light-on-issue/ (2019)
- Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming: